Three New Hanover County Commissioners took the oath of office last night in downtown Wilmington.
At the historic County Courthouse, observers packed the meeting room and rose repeatedly to deliver standing ovations in recognition of service – both past and to come. The two newest members now lead the board.
It was the two freshmen who offered nominations for the positions of higher authority.
First, Beth Dawson:
“Yes. Commissioner Dawson.”
“It is my honor to nominate Woody White for Chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.”
Then it was Woody White’s turn.
“Ms. Copley, I nominate Commissioner Dawson, the seventh woman to serve on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners as Vice Chairman of the Commission.”
Rick Catlin quickly seconded both motions and they passed unanimously.
Now that the longest-serving Commissioner, Jonathan Barfield, is the lone Democrat on the Board, some political observers have predicted his marginalization. But Woody White says Barfield was the first counsel he sought the morning after the election – and that dynamic, he insists, will continue.
“He’s going to be an integral part of this process. I’m going to make him be that way. It’s too important. This Board has been functioning, unfortunately, at not full force in the last couple of years and so we need all hands on deck – all commissioners to have a full voice and full participation. And so there’s no risk at all that Commissioner Barfield is not going to be involved. He’s going to be much more involved than probably he hopes to be.”
Rick Catlin stepped down from the Board last night, leaving his seat open to an as-yet unknown appointee. And after a failed reelection attempt, Jason Thompson’s term has ended.