Newton mayor won't seek re-election

Newton Mayor Robert A. Mullinax announced Tuesday that he will not seek a third term as mayor in the upcoming municipal election Nov. 4.

Mullinax, an attorney in Newton for the past 34 years and a former District Court judge, was elected by the citizens of his hometown to posts in city government for the past decade.

In a statement issued Tuesday by Mullinax, he said he will step down as leader of Newton this year after serving as mayor since 2003.

He was elected to Newton City Council — then the Board of Aldermen — for a four-year term in 2001 and served as mayor pro tem for two years, when voters elected him the city’s top leadership position.

“Serving the citizens of Newton has been an honor," Mullinax said. "For the last decade, I have been focused on making our hometown the best that it can be. The time and service have been most rewarding for me personally, but I believe it is an appropriate time for me to pause from my mayoral duties and see where else I can be of service.

“During my tenure as mayor, we have been in step together," he said.

"Newton can move forward, and I am confident the citizens will continue the progress we have been making over the past several years, when under the leadership of the new mayor, the City Council and our most competent administration.”

Mullinax reviewed highlights of the city government's accomplishments during the eight years he served as mayor. Newton established an excellent relationship with its fellow municipalities and the Catawba County government with open means of communication, he said. He cited numerous major achievements of Newton during the two four-year terms he has been the mayor.

“Jobs were a priority and still are as companies of long standing in our community expanded and new ones moved here," Mullinax said. "New jobs have been created by companies including ZF Lemforder, Target, Flowers Bakery, Moretz Gold Toe, General Dynamics and Sarstedt, with additions and expansions during the last eight years. We have focused on our economic growth despite the challenging times of this era. We have created an attitude in Newton based upon pride in our heritage, which is an attitude that I believe must continue. We must strive to move ahead in order to improve ourselves by our willingness to aggressively seek job opportunities for our citizens.

“I have been pleased to have been a part in the placement of our present administration," he continued. "Our current city manager, police chief, finance administrator, public works director and city clerk have all come on board during the last five years. I would like to say that our city has the most professional and competent administrative staff and group of employees. Each one comes to work each day with the best interests of the city at heart. It has been my pleasure to be associated with them.”

Mullinax said that during his tenure the city achieved "major capital improvements that will serve citizens for decades to come." Among them are a new dam on the Jacobs Fork River, upgrades the the city's electrical service system, construction of Southside Cemetery, completion of the Greenway from Seventh Street to N.C. 10, completion of Newton Depot and creation of a new public park at Jacobs Fork.

“While I am not intending to be uninvolved, I do intend to take a break and return my focus on my family and my law practice," he said. "It is always a good practice for our elected officials to take a moment and stand back and see where they have been and where they are going. As a citizen and advocate for our city and the Catawba Valley, I hope to remain active and involved in making our home one that we will be proud to pass on to our children and grandchildren.”

Mullinax, 59, followed a family tradition of public service to his hometown. His father, the late Loyd A. Mullinax, a savings and loan president, was a former state legislator who served as Newton’s mayor for three two-year terms from 1971 to 1977, after also serving as alderman and mayor pro-tem. His mother, the late Mary Hatchett Mullinax, was an advocate of volunteerism and a past member of the Board of Directors of Catawba Valley Community College (then Catawba Valley Technical Institute).

Active in other civic endeavors and on policy boards for governmental affairs, Mullinax is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Catawba County Historical Association. He was co-founder and former director of the Newton-Conover Education Foundation; past present of Newton Lions Club; past director of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce; co-founder and past director of Repay Inc., a Catawba County community service program; past member of Newton-Conover Recreation Commission; past member of Newton Depot Authority; past member of the Public Safety and Transportation Committee of the National League of Cities; and is completing his second term as director of the N.C. League of Municipalities.

He is an active member of Beth Eden Lutheran Church and has served in numerous positions, including Sunday School teacher, church council member and vice president of the congregation.

In his career, he has practiced law since 1977 in Newton as a general practitioner in the law firm of Robert A. Mullinax, PLLC, a general practice law firm. He practices in state and federal courts and is admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

He was appointed as judge of the District Court of the 25th Judicial District of North Carolina in May 1981 and re-elected in November 1982.

Mullinax is a certified Superior Court mediator, after training at the Private Adjudication Center at Duke University. He is also a former attorney for the Newton-Conover Board of Education.

The 1970 graduate of Newton-Conover High School earned a BA degree in 1974 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his law degree in 1977 from Wake Forest School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review at Wake Forest University. He holds membership in Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.

Mullinax and his wife, the former Lynn Isenhower, a Conover native, have been married 37 years. Their children are Robert A. Mullinax Jr., an attorney was has been a District Court judge since 2009, and Mary Jordan Mullinax Samuel of Charlotte, who is associated with the Mecklenburg County Bar Association. They have a 3-year-old grandson, John Alexander Mullinax.