Summerfield Town Councilmember Dianne Laughlin spoke recently about the lawsuit filed against her by former Summerfield Town Councilmember Todd Rotruck in an attempt to win back his seat on the council, which would, of course, remove Laughlin from the position she now holds.
Laughlin said that, apparently, those bringing the suit wanted to make very sure she got a copy. She said that, on Friday, Jan. 4, she received a FedEx package containing the suit and she added that she was also served with the same papers by deputies from the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department.
According to Laughlin, she was shocked to learn she was being sued.
“It was a total surprise,” she said.
She added that she was also surprised when a second copy of the suit was handed to her.
According to Laughlin, the situation is now not in her own hands but in the hands of a higher power.
“I am praying and I feel like God is in control,” she said.
Laughlin lived in Greensboro until two decades ago when she moved to Summerfield. After she retired in 1999 from work in the insurance industry, she served as a deputy clerk for the town before becoming a Town Council member. She lost her bid to regain that seat in November 2017.
However, in October the Town Council voted in favor of having Laughlin fill the seat that was left vacant earlier in the year after the Guilford County Board of Elections determined Rotruck did not live in Summerfield.
Rotruck is appealing that decision in the NC Court of Appeals and the NC Attorney General’s office has authorized Rotruck to act on behalf of the state to sue to get his seat back.
Laughlin said she enjoys serving on the council and she was honored to be asked to fill the seat in October.
“I will say now what I said then,” Laughlin said. “I told them, ‘I’m here as long as you need me.’”
Both Rotruck and his attorney, Marsh Prause, said no one is asserting that Laughlin did anything wrong by taking the seat that was offered to her by a majority of the Town Council. Both men said the real complaint was against the Town of Summerfield and said it was based on the way the Town Council had thrown Rotruck off the council while his appeal was going on without any due process.
The Guilford County Board of Elections has never commented on whether Rotruck should or should not serve on the Summerfield Town Council. That board did, however, determine that Rotruck lived in Greensboro not in Summerfield.
Laughlin said she has enjoyed serving on the Town Council – both in her prior terms and over the last three months.
She said there are important issues for the council to decide. According to Laughlin, those issues change over the years but often they are related to growth.
“We now have about 11,000 people and, with each of these growth spurts, comes a different issue,” she said.