Congressman Ted Budd (R-NC), whose district includes western Chatham County, visited Siler City on Thursday to present Cecilia Grimes with a Congressional Record honoring her late husband, Siler City …
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SILER CITY — Congressman Ted Budd (R-N.C.) visited Siler City last Thursday to present Cecilia Grimes with a Congressional Record honoring her late husband and former Siler City mayor, John Grimes, who died in October.
“I come here for a couple of different reasons,” Budd said, addressing a small audience that included several town commissioners and Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Bray. “One, I come as a friend. Another is because this is part of my congressional district ... And the other part is that I come as family.”
Budd had only met the mayor once before the pandemic began, he said, but already he’d known much about Grimes and his political career.
“I know from his son, J.T., who lives in the Winston-Salem area,” Budd told the News + Record. “I’ve known him for years and go to church with him.”
And through Cecilia Grimes — whose maiden name is Budd — the congressman suspected a distant kinship.
“I had heard about the Budds, Cecilia’s family, that lived in Siler City,” he said. “So, I knew there was another line of my family somewhere, and it was last year when the congressional lines were drawn here that really brought us together.”
Despite having only briefly known the late mayor, Budd was eager to confer him with official recognition for a life of public service. On the day he died, the American flag over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., was flown in Grimes’ honor. Budd had a part in organizing the tribute, but wanted to do more for a family he holds in high esteem.
“Your family is very special to me,” Budd said in his speech, addressing Cecilia Grimes. “So, I wanted to put into the Congressional Record the significance of Mayor John Grimes, your husband ... Just know that this is permanently on record, and we do these for those that mean a lot to us.”
Grimes died in October after decades in local government and a lifetime dedicated to public service. His foray into politics began in the early 1990s when he served a term with the Chatham County Board of Commissioners. In 1999, Grimes localized his attention and ran successfully for Siler City’s District 4 commissioner seat. He served four terms in that capacity before holding the mayor’s seat another four terms, up until his death.
“It was an honor to be able to remember somebody like him,” Budd said. “It’s interesting, when you meet some people in life, you have a built-in history. You know a lot of the same people and you share a lot of the same roots, and that’s what it was like when I met Mayor Grimes.”
Budd coupled his visit to see the Grimes family with a brief tour of the surrounding area. It was his first time in Siler City since the town became part of his congressional district in late 2019, he said. He represents parts of 10 N.C. counties in the U.S. House of Representatives; his district border runs through western Chatham, bisecting Siler City.
“I’m very impressed so far,” he said, “especially with the way there’s so much food processing that takes place here for the whole nation. This really is part of the critical infrastructure and I think you all have done a great job.”
Still, he thinks Chatham has been stifled by unreasonable pandemic restrictions. If the Republicans reclaimed the House majority, Budd said, industry town such as Siler City would see more targeted economic relief.
“The main thing for me is getting the majority back,” he said. “And then once we do that, continuing the economic recovery. The best stimulus is not $2 trillion printed out of thin air. The best stimulus is full reopening.”
Under Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s oversight, the state has begun a program of more aggressive resumption of normal activity. But to Budd, the pace is still too slow.
“If you look at states like Florida and Texas, their economy is recovering faster,” he said. “And that’s what people need. I think people need to go back fully to work. If they need to wear a mask in their particular situation, I fully support that. But we need to have no requirements right now for that and we need to have full reopening. I think that would be the biggest boost to the North Carolina economy.”
The Congressional Record, as Budd presented it on the Congress floor, reads in part: “Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the life and legacy of Siler City Mayor John Franklin Grimes III who passed away on October 20, 2020. John was a stalwart of the Siler City, North Carolina, community where he served as mayor since 2013. He was a servant in the truest sense of the word, always willing to go to the back of the line and take care of the needs of others first. Unsurprisingly, he was one of the select few to be awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, for remarkable service to the state. John’s character of service was ingrained at a young age as his father quickly signed up to join the U.S. Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. John would say that, ‘Growing up, we presumed to have an obligation to serve the military.’ ... John continuously stressed how seriously he valued the input of his constituents, saying that if they don’t hold politicians accountable, anything can happen. Mr. Speaker, our country needs more public servants like John Franklin Grimes III. The entire Siler City Community is less full today without John, but the impact he made in the lives he touched are a testament to how special a person he was. Please join me in celebrating his life and his legacy.”
Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @dldolder.