‘The loneliest job in New Bern,’ departing Mayor Dana Outlaw –“I will try to do what is best for New Bern,” incoming Mayor Jeff Odham

Dana Outlaw, 68, and Jeff Odham, 43, are good friends. Both grew up in New Bern. They usually find themselves on the same side of city issues.

Outlaw served two terms as an alderman before winning his mayoral seat eight years ago. Now Odham – like Outlaw earlier – is moving up from a two-term stint on the Board of Alderman to lead the city.

Since Hurricane Florence in 2018, Outlaw has led an effort to make the flood-prone city more ‘resilient.’ Improved drainage is his mantra! 

Odham is known for his proficiency with municipal finances. He often cites nuances in proposed city budgets that send department heads scurrying. 

Both men are usually stoic. However, a brief ceremony Monday night at City Hall to mark an official changing of the guard proved to be an emotional experience each man.

Outlaw went first, reeling off the names and his affection for family members, and his appreciation for their support. 

“I also love all 490 city employees,” said Outlaw. “A mayor is not a good mayor without wonderful, qualified staff behind him.” 

Odham was next. “What I learned from you, Mayor Outlaw, was to always be prepared and on my toes because I never knew when the mayor might look over this way and ask me something.”

Referring to pandemic-induced election delays, Odham added: “This is the longest-serving Board of Aldermen in New Bern’s history.” 

The ceremony also welcomed three new faces to the Board of Aldermen: Rick Prill of Ward 1; Hazel Royal of Ward 2; and, Bob Brinson of Ward 6.