Commissioners to Elect Chairman Monday
At least two incumbents and a commissioner-elect are staying mum when it comes to who will be chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners.
The three agree that Tim Lea has done a good job as chairman this year and that any of the other four would make a good chairman. But no one is willing to express a preference.
"They're all qualified," said Craig Kennedy, who will be sworn in as the new District 3 commissioner at the beginning of the board's 5 p.m. meeting Monday in the historic courthouse in Carthage. "Tim has done a real good job as chairman."
Incumbent Jimmy Melton said, "Tim has been a real good chairman. I can support any of them (as chairman)."
Incumbent Nick Picerno, himself a former chairman, expressed the same sentiments.
"Any of the other four," he said. "They're all capable."
Incumbent Commissioner Larry Caddell was out of town and could not be reached for comment, and Lea did not return a call prior to deadline.
None of the three interviewed by The Pilot would admit interest in serving as chairman, a position of authority, but one that requires considerably more time than that of other board members.
"Our board is blessed with plenty of capable leadership material," Melton said. "We have no shortage of chairmanship potential. I am not putting my name in the running."
Picerno and Kennedy also said they were not interested in being chairman.
Kennedy said he wants to wait at least a year before holding any office on the board. He said he plans to learn the ropes first before considering such a position.
A relative newcomer to Moore County politics, Kennedy will be serving in his first elected office after he is sworn in Monday. He declined to comment when asked whom he would like to see in the chairman's seat.
"I'll be waiting to see who's nominated," Kennedy said.
Smooth Transition Expected
Picerno said everyone will find out the new chairman Monday. However, he predicted that the transition from the old to the new board would be smooth.
When asked who would be the new chairman, Melton simply laughed and jokingly said, "And you seriously expect me to give you an answer."
Both Melton and Picerno said that the board has been operating much more efficiently in recent years than critics have credited the commissioners.
As for the split votes on issues relating to the detention center, Picerno pointed out that the board has voted unanimously on many more issues than there have been split votes. And he recalled that some of his own votes have been in dissension with the other four but those votes have received little attention from the public.
"Those 3-2 votes were only on a few high-profile subjects," Picerno said. "I have felt strongly about my position on those issues, and the other two have also felt strongly. There's nothing wrong with that."
The split votes on the detention center were identical in the past year with Caddell, Melton and Picerno voting together and Commissioner Cindy Morgan siding with Lea.
Picerno said that the board has reduced county government and saved taxpayer money with wise spending practices. This has been accomplished without layoffs and with lower taxes.
Overall, the board has done a good job, Picerno said.
All Are Republicans
Picerno chaired the board in 2009, his first year as a commissioner, a factor that drew criticism from some quarters. At the end of his year, Picerno did not seek re-election as chairman.
This was in keeping with an unwritten understanding that the chairmanship would be rotated among the members with the chairs serving one year at a time. A reputed violation of this unofficial agreement caused dissension among board members several years ago when former Commissioner Colin McKenzie was elected to a second consecutive term despite an unofficial understanding that it was Lea's turn as chairman.
This dissension continued with the election of Picerno as chairman, although it was his first year on the board. McKenzie did not run for re-election in 2008, and Picerno was elected to fill the vacancy.
Whether the board chooses Lea for a second year or another commissioner for the chairmanship, the vice chairman will be new. Cindy Morgan, who was vice chairwoman this year, is not returning to the board. Kennedy defeated her in the May GOP primary election and was unopposed in the November general election to win that seat.
The swearing-in ceremony will be held for Kennedy, Caddell and Melton. Melton had no opposition within the Republican party but defeated a Democratic opponent in the general election. Caddell was unopposed in the primary or general elections.
All five board members are Republicans. All terms are for four years.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at -firstname.lastname@example.org.
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