GOP defends Governor’s appointee

Published 9:17 am Thursday, March 20, 2014

WINDSOR – He originally came to talk about wood heaters. But it was something else that had Garry Terry all “fired up.”

Terry, chairman of the Bertie County Republican Party, also heads up the NC GOP for the First Congressional District.

During public comments at the Bertie County Board of Commissioners’ Monday night meeting, Terry saved his biggest salvos for published remarks made recently regarding Governor Pat McCrory’s appointment to the Roanoke-Chowan Community College Board of Trustees.

The governor’s appointees – he makes a total of four – comprise just one third of the 12-member community college board of trustees as set out in North Carolina General Statutes 115-D regarding NC Community Colleges.

Four members are appointed by the Board of Education in the administrative area where the college is located; four more are named by the Board of Commissioners of that same county – in this case, Hertford County – with the governor’s appointees making the dozen member trustee board. A 13th non-voting member of the board is comprised of the college’s student body president.

McCrory’s appointee to fill the 2014 vacancy – and the governor’s first – was retired Hertford County Agriculture Extension service agent Byron Simonds, whose address is listed as Murfreesboro.  That made for two gubernatorial appointees from Hertford County, two from Northampton, but none from Bertie.

All the prior appointees were made by then-governor Beverly Perdue.

Meanwhile, at the March meeting of the Bertie Commissioners, Chairman Wallace Perry had inquired of RCCC President, Dr. Michael Elam, about the status of placing a Bertie resident on the college’s Board.

Commissioner Ronald D. “Ron” Wesson stated then that when a name was submitted by the Board, that applicant – Wesson himself – was rejected in favor of Simonds and the Bertie Commissioners voiced concern the appointment was of a political nature.

Elam emphasized that he submits the applications, but does not have a say in the governor’s appointments; to which Commissioner Rick Harrell later replied that Bertie County would just like to get someone on the RCCC Board no matter their political persuasion, versus no Bertie representative at all.

Terry’s comments Monday night were to challenge that assessment.

“Your accusation that partisan politics is at play in the decision to fill the vacancy with someone from Hertford County, rather than Bertie, is completely baseless,” Terry said

Terry went on to claim published comments by the Bertie Commissioners of partisan politics were unfounded, and he defended the governor.

“As for appointments, the Governor has appointed quite a number of people from here in the northeast to various boards and commissions,” Terry said.

Terry cited that McCrory has appointed six Bertie County people to various statewide boards and commissions, including one as a chairman, though he did not name any of them.

“Just because you didn’t get your way on one recommendation, you should temper your partisan posture,” he said in closing.

Wesson made the first response to Terry’s remarks.

“Bertie County has the second largest group of students who attend Roanoke-Chowan Community College,” he began. “Because of that, this board would like to have a position on that board so that we would know exactly how our students, residents, etc., are made a part of their program.”

Wesson further said the recommendation was made specific to McCrory and that the governor’s assistant informed the board that the Commissioner’s recommendation had been turned down and that Dr. Elam was told that the person on the board needed to be a Republican.

“We asked for a seat,” Wesson asserted. “We didn’t say it had to be a Democrat, we didn’t say it had to be a Republican.  We submitted one name on the application and that was turned down because that person was not a Republican.  We never made anything political.”

Terry countered that former Governor Perdue, a Democrat, had made the other three RCCC appointments.

“You ought not be blasting the governor in a public domain,” he said,” adding that he was skeptical about the decision on the appointment being partisan.

Perry said that Terry should make the necessary contacts within the McCrory administration to find his answer about partisanship.

“We were told that,” said Perry. “We were told that (partisanship) was the reason.”

Harrell re-iterated what he’d said earlier, as was published, that if it took getting a Republican on the board, then submit one as long as Bertie received representation.

“I clearly stated that representation on that (RCCC trustee) board is what we need, and we all believe that we do; then if it takes putting a Republican on the board – then, hey – whatever it takes to get our foot in the door to get representation for the citizens of Bertie County is all that matters,” Harrell said.

Harrell also pointed out that money was not being withheld from the college because of partisan politics.

“If that were so, you would be right; but that is not the case,” Harrell said.

Vice-chairman Charles Smith inquired when the governor would be making the next appointment to the RCCC board, and Terry told him it would be in June.