'This one ran amok': Shouting matches bring abrupt end to Sunset - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

'This one ran amok': Shouting matches bring abrupt end to Sunset Beach council meeting

A Sunset Beach town council grew increasingly heated with aggressive arguments and multiple warnings directed at a councilman to settle down. (Source: Sunset Beach) A Sunset Beach town council grew increasingly heated with aggressive arguments and multiple warnings directed at a councilman to settle down. (Source: Sunset Beach)
SUNSET BEACH, NC (WECT) -

The Sunset Beach town council meeting abruptly adjourned after a barrage of aggressive arguments Tuesday between council members and the mayor pro-tem.

Councilman Rich Cerrato continuously spoke over Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Benton and refused to stay quiet, citing his displeasure with Benton's refusal to have a discussion before voting to increase fire fees 45 percent.

"Am I supposed to sit there and be a choir boy or am I supposed to speak up to protect the interests of the taxpayers?" Cerrato said over the phone Thursday morning. "The process was slimy."

Benton repeatedly asked Cerrato to stop talking as he tried to move on to the next agenda item, banging his gavel several times until finally adjourning the meeting while Cerrato was mid-sentence.

Despite the constant interruptions, Cerrato said he won't change the way he acts in meetings.

"I will react the same way. No one should be denied discussion and free speech," Cerrato said. "This is not a dictatorship. Our pro-tem mayor is not Kim Jong Un."

Benton said he has not spoken to Cerrato since the meeting.

"We can't tolerate meetings that run amok and this one ran amok," Benton told WECT Thursday. "It's up to Rich to change. The town council as a whole runs very smoothly. We have disagreements but that's healthy."

While Benton admits the arguments were childish, he doesn't believe Sunset Beach taxpayers have to worry about the council effectively carrying out its duties.

"We are moving forward, just a hiccup in how you do things," Benton said.

Sunset Beach town council's next meeting is scheduled for June 4.

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