The Chosen Ones

Published 9:01 am Monday, October 28, 2013

GATESVILLE – Two individuals have risen to the top of the list as replacements for a like number of key positions within Gates County local government.

At their Oct. 21 meeting, the Executive Committee of the Gates County Democratic Party reached consensus during a nomination process to find replacements for the late County Commissioner John Hora, and Sharon Harrell, the county’s current Register of Deeds.

Hora died Sept. 28, two days after being involved in a single vehicle accident on NC 137. Prior to his untimely death, the 65-year-old Hora was in the third year of his initial term on the board of commissioners, entering the world of politics and winning his first-ever election in 2010.

One day prior to Hora’s death, Harrell announced her resignation, due to medical reasons, in a letter sent to County Manager Jon Mendenhall. Harrell, who has set Nov. 1 as her last day on the job, was reelected last November to another four-year term.

After holding an Oct. 10 meeting to hear from those interested in filling either seat, the Executive Committee opted at their gathering 11 days later to select Billy Felton (for the commissioner’s vacancy), and Cathy Horton (to fill Harrell’s seat) as their nominees.

Felton, of Eure, operates a surveying business and is a veteran member of the Eure Volunteer Fire Department. Horton currently works with Harrell as the county’s Assistant Register of Deeds.

“Other than a bit of paperwork, our task is finished,” said Anthony Saunders, Chairman of the Gates County Democratic Party. “All that’s left to do is to formally send, by mail, the names of our two nominees to the Gates County Board of Commissioners.”

Saunders said only two individuals sought to fill Hora’s seat. As required, both resided in the same area as Hora (the Eure/Hall Township), and both are Democrats.

Horton was chosen from among a field of eight individuals seeking to replace Harrell. That process was open to any registered Democrat living in Gates County.

The county commissioners may take action on the Executive Committee’s nominations as early as their next scheduled meeting on Nov. 6. By state statute, the commissioners are required to appoint the person recommended by the Executive Committee, if the party makes a recommendation within 30 days of the occurrence of the vacancy. The committee did act within that 30-day window, meaning that Horton will fill the remaining three years on Harrell’s unexpired term.

However, for the Hora vacancy, the commissioners are not bound by law to accept the Executive Committee’s nomination. Whether the commissioners decide to accept the committee’s nominee or select another individual, the person named to fill Hora’s seat will serve the remaining months of his unexpired term, which would have officially ended on the first Monday of December, 2014.

The Executive Committee of the Gates County Democratic Party is comprised of the entity’s chairman, the first, second and third vice chairman, the secretary and the treasurer along with the chairman and vice chairman of each of the county’s six voting precincts. Additionally, any county citizen currently holding a Gates County local government seat (elected as a Democrat) are considered members of the Executive Committee.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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