In addition to his signature cowboy hat, Winston’s new mayor, Dick Hayes, brings more than a decade of city government experience to the dais.
Hayes has served on the council for 10 consecutive years; he was finishing up his fourth term when the council elected him to fill the city’s vacant mayor position Monday night. He also served three years on the city’s planning commission.
Hayes is modest, which could explain why he was at first reluctant to accept the position after the city’s former mayor, Ken Barrett, resigned following a sex scandal and his arrest. City staff initially believed that Hayes, as the council president, would fill the vacant role.
Later, a city attorney determined that the city charter allowed the city council to elect any one of its own members to fill a vacant mayor seat. Hayes enc or to accept applications from the general public. The council unanimously chose Hayes.
“I’ve been asked to run for mayor for the last five or six years,” Hayes said. “I said no, you’ve got to have someone who wants it bad. It’s a lot of work and I don’t need the glory.”
As for what changed his mind: “Talking to my constituents and people around town.”
Councilors and a few people from the crowd encouraged Hayes to accept the position at Monday night’s council meeting. They said he could provide exactly what the city needed after a month of drama and regional bad press: stability.
“He has been the most experienced person on the council,” Councilor David Cunningham said at the meeting. “We need some real stability in here.”
Hayes moved to Winston 14 years ago as a real estate developer with a number of jobs in the area. He moved from Seattle, where he worked on a number of high-rise buildings, highway off-ramps, and even some projects at the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport.
Winston’s small town charm is what convinced him to stay.
“Winston is a nice little town,” he said. “Everybody wants to change everything, but that’s why people come here: because it’s a nice little town.”
He immediately got involved with the local agencies by attending city council and chamber of commerce meetings.
Hayes’ term as mayor will end in December 2018. Until then, he hopes to help the city focus on its current projects instead of taking up new ones.
“I’m not coming in with a big list that I want done,” he said. “We’re relocating the police department, building new bathrooms at Riverside Park, working with the state and county to put flashing crosswalks in. We’ve got to finish these projects we’ve been talking about for years before we start adding more projects.”
He added that he prefers to avoid raising taxes to cover the costs of new projects.
“We’ve got so many people in town who are older and retired and are on a fixed income,” he said. “On the east side of town, there are those itty bitty houses, and they can’t afford that stuff. So I say if we need it, OK. If it’s a want, don’t get it.”
One example is the Winston Police Department, which is moving to a new building that is being retrofitted for emergency response needs. It currently shares space with staff at city hall, and it has outgrown that location.
“It got to be more of a need,” Hayes said.
After Hayes’ mayoral term ends at the end of 2019, he plans on focusing on his work as a property manager and spending his free time relaxing at home.