Ronald Gatling…the future is now

Published 8:24 am Thursday, April 22, 2010

WINTON – “In the words of DuPont Davis, it’s time to go to work.”

With that said her Monday night, Ronald Gatling settled in the seat formerly held by his friend and neighbor just after the Ahoskie native affirmed the oath of office as a Hertford County Commissioner.

Gatling was the choice of the Hertford County Democratic Party to replace Davis on the board. By law, the local Democratic Party has the opportunity to recommend a name to the county commissioners to replace an elected official who either resigns or dies during a term in office. However, the commissioners have the right to accept that recommendation or appoint a replacement of their choosing.

At Monday night’s regularly scheduled meeting of the commissioners, the two public entities were in agreement.

Commissioner Howard Hunter III said he consulted with the Hertford County Democratic Party following the latter’s executive committee meeting held on April 6. From that meeting, the Party chose Gatling to replace Davis.

“I would recommend to the board that we go along with the recommendation of the Democratic Party, choosing Ronald Gatling as a commissioner to fill the seat of the late DuPont Davis,” Hunter told the board, adding that he would make that as a motion.

Commission Vice-Chair Curtis Freeman offered a second and the motion was approved by a 4-0 vote with Commission Chairman Johnnie Ray Farmer and Commissioner William “Bill” Mitchell joining the unanimous nomination.

Gatling was then joined by his wife, Alecia, and Earline Davis, the widow of DuPont Davis, as he affirmed the oath of office as administered by local District Court Judge Rob Lewis.

“Thank-you to the Davis family for your endorsement,” Gatling said immediately after taking his seat on the board. “And thank-you to the Hertford County Democratic Party and the Hertford County Board of Commissioners for your support.”

By law, Gatling was only appointed to fill Davis’ seat until the next General Election, which occurs on Nov. 2. Prior to that election (no later than Aug. 6), the Hertford County Democratic Party is required to submit the name of a candidate to the Hertford County Board of Elections to be placed on the November ballot. With their endorsement of Gatling, it is expected that the Party will submit his name. Additionally, the Hertford County Republican Party has the opportunity to submit a candidate of their choosing. The winner of the November election will fill the remaining two years of Davis’ term.

All that political maneuvering does not affect Gatling as he is no stranger to the world of politics, having served three terms on the Ahoskie Town Council and is currently in his second, four-year term as a member of the Roanoke-Chowan Community College Board of Trustees.

Since 1998, he has been employed as the Community Relations Coordinator with Hertford County Public Schools (HCPS).

His popularity was evident Monday night as the Commissioners’ meeting room was filled to capacity. In attendance were HCPS officials, including athletic coaches (Gatling is a member of the Hertford County High School football staff), R-CCC President Dr. Ralph Soney and several R-CCC Trustees, Town of Ahoskie officials and District 4 N.C. Senator Ed Jones.

“I was shocked to see the turnout at the meeting,” Gatling said during a Wednesday morning telephone interview. “I really appreciate that support.”

The newly seated commissioner said he felt comfortable on his first night as a board member.

“It was for sure not like my very first meeting as an Ahoskie Town Councilman,” Gatling recalled. “I was scared to death. But I learned a lot over my 12 years as a public servant for the Town of Ahoskie. I owe a lot of that maturity to men like (former Ahoskie Councilman) Doug Brinkley and (former Ahoskie Mayor) Arthur Lee Wiggins (now deceased). They helped me and guided me. It’s because of them and then others on the Ahoskie Council where I had a chance to work with men and women who share a common goal, that of working for the good of all people.”

Gatling said it’s that type of attitude he will bring to the board of commissioners.

“There is a great group of men already here working for the betterment of all citizens of Hertford County,” he stressed. “I will seek to build a working relationship with my colleagues on the board and the county staff as we move forward with a united vision to make Hertford County a better place to live, to work and to raise our families.”

Gatling, 48, is the father of eight children, Terrell (22), twins, LaDonya and Ladonna (19), Grant (14), Jarrett (12), Orrin (9), Arissa (6) and Jordin (2).