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Bertie Democrats tab Smith

WINDSOR – Bertie’s Democratic Party has spoken n Charles L. Smith is their man.

At a special called meeting here Tuesday evening, the party’s executive committee gathered to name a replacement to fill the seat on the county’s board of commissioners left empty by the death of J. Jasper Bazemore.

Bazemore, reelected Nov. 7 to what would have been a fourth term in office, died eight days later. His commissioner’s seat was officially declared vacant during the Dec. 4 meeting of the board. There, the commissioners approved a measure that called for County Manager Zee Lamb to send a letter to the Bertie County Democratic Party, calling for that entity to forward a recommendation to the commissioners within 30 days.

That recommendation is now on its way to the commissioners.

Bertie Democratic Party Chairperson Penny Thompson presided over Tuesday’s brief meeting where seven of the county’s 12 voting precincts were represented.

After opening the floor for recommendations, John Tyler nominated Smith. A motion was heard and seconded to close the nominations, leading to a majority vote to forward Smith’s name to the commissioners as a possible replacement.

Tyler, who serves as Bertie County’s Clerk of Court, was eligible to make a nomination. He as well as other Bertie Democrats elected to a countywide office serve in an ex-officio capacity within the Bertie Democratic Party.

Thompson said following the meeting that the Bertie Democratic Party had, with Smith’s recommendation, fulfilled their obligation to name a possible successor to Bazemore’s seat. She said it was now required of the party to forward Smith’s name to the Bertie Board of Commissioners for consideration. A copy of that letter will be sent, as required, to North Carolina Democratic Party officials.

Upon receiving the recommendation, the four seated Bertie County Commissioners can accept or reject Smith. If they reject the recommendation, the commissioners can themselves appoint an individual, as long as that person is a county resident and a registered Democrat living within Bazemore’s district n the Snakebite and Indian Woods voting precincts.

Smith meets that criteria.

Contacted later Tuesday evening at his home on Governor’s Road, Smith said he appreciated the nomination and was eager to work for the citizens of Bertie County if approved by the seated commissioners.

“By working for 34 years as an educator in this county, I feel that I know the citizens of Bertie County and that they know me,” Smith said. “I’ll use the same approach that I had in education and that’s being fair, honest, being a team player and listening to the people. It’s all about working together, but the main thing is to be fair.”

A native of Bertie County, Smith began his educational career in 1966 as a classroom teacher at the old Southwestern High School. Following integration of the county’s public school system, he moved to Bertie Senior High School in 1968 as a math and business math teacher.

His career continued as a classroom teacher and assistant principal at Bertie Junior High School and later at Southwestern Middle School. He returned to Bertie High School in 1985 as an assistant principal and retired 15 years later in that same position.

Smith is the father of two daughters and speaks proudly of one granddaughter.

According to the law set forth in North Carolina State Statute 153A-27, if Smith is approved by the commissioners, he will serve only two years of Bazemore’s new four-year term. At the next election cycle (2008), a filing period will be declared open for Snakebite/Indian Woods district seat on the board of commissioners. The winner of the ensuing election will serve out the remaining two years (until 2010) of the term.