Commissioners approve Smith

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 8, 2007

WINDSOR – Charles L. Smith is the chosen one.

Bertie County’s Board of Commissioners made it official during their scheduled meeting here yesterday (Monday) morning where, in a 4-0 vote, they approved Smith as the replacement to the board seat left vacant by the Nov. 15 death of veteran commissioner J. Jasper Bazemore.

“The (Bertie County) Democratic Party did an excellent job to find a viable candidate to serve the citizens of Bertie County,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Rick Harrell following Smith’s approval.

Harrell, nodding at Smith who was seated in the audience, then added, “Charles, thank-you for your willingness to serve.”

After Monday’s meeting, Smith told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that he appreciated the overwhelming vote of confidence by the seated commissioners.

“Of course I’m very pleased at the outcome of today’s vote,” Smith said. “I’m ready to get to work.”

That will come at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 when Smith will formally be sworn-in prior to the start of a special called meeting between the commissioners and the Bertie County Planning Board.

In the meantime, he will busy himself in preparing for this new role.

“I promise to work for the citizens of Bertie County,” he said. “I plan to get out and meet the citizens face-to-face and let them tell me of what is needed to make this county a better place to live. I need to learn all I can as soon as I can.”

Following political procedures set in place, Smith was the choice of the Bertie County Democratic Party (BCDP). The executive committee of that group met Dec. 19 from where Smith’s name was the only one to surface.

In a letter dated Dec. 21, Penny Thompson, Chairman of the BCDP, forwarded Smith’s recommendation to the board of commissioners. By law, the commissioners could accept or reject the recommendation.

As required by North Carolina General Statutes, Smith is a registered Democrat, the same political party of which Bazemore was a member. Smith also resides in Bazemore’s district n the Snakebite and Indian Woods voting precincts.

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.

All totaled, Smith’s educational career spanned 34 years.

According to the law set forth in North Carolina State Statute 153A-27, Smith 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.

Bazemore was reelected Nov. 7 to what would have been a fourth term in office, but died eight days later. His commissioner’s seat was officially declared vacant during the Dec. 4 meeting of the board.