Six vie for Hunter’s seat

Published 8:40 am Thursday, January 22, 2015

WINTON – The proverbial ball is now in the court of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners.

At their regularly scheduled meeting here Tuesday night, the board was presented a list of six names to consider as they work to fill the seat of former Commissioner Howard Hunter III. The list was presented to the board by the Executive Committee of the Hertford County Democratic Party (HCDP).

Hunter, a 10-year member of the County Commission, resigned effective Dec. 31, 2014 in order to take his seat as a newly elected member of the North Carolina House of Representatives. He won that District 5 seat (representing Bertie, Hertford, Gates and Pasquotank counties) in the November General Election.

At their meeting on Jan. 15, the HCDP received nominations from its Executive Committee members to forward to the Commissioners for their consideration. Sang Hamilton, HCDP Chairman, told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that the Executive Committee recognized and followed a request made by the current Commissioners to recommend multiple names.

Those candidates, listed in alphabetical order (by last name; and not in any order of preference by the HCDP) are Oliver Holley, principal at Conway Middle School; John Horton, a past member of the Hertford County Board of Education; F. Garry Lewter, a funeral director; Berna Stephens, president of the C.S. Brown Regional Cultural Arts Center and Museum; Sarah Wallace, a current member of the Murfreesboro Town Council and Mayor Pro Tem; and Carl White, past president of the Hertford County Branch of the NAACP, current director of the state’s District 11 NAACP, and current member of the Roanoke-Chowan Community College Board of Trustees.

Hamilton confirmed that each of the six candidates met the requirements of being considered for the vacant seat as they all reside within the proper voting precincts eligible in this case. Holley, Horton and Lewter all reside in the Union Precinct; Stephens and Wallace are in the Murfreesboro Precinct; and White votes in the Millennium Precinct.

“This is always a hectic job for a party’s Executive Committee,” Hamilton said, referencing the process to select a replacement for an elected official. “We followed the state statutes and procedures as we met within 30 days of Mr. Hunter submitting his resignation as a seated Commissioner, and forwarded our list of possible replacements to the county in a timely manner.”

Hamilton recalls past situations where the Executive Committee was required to submit only one name for consideration.

“That’s always very, very tough, narrowing a list of qualified candidates down to just one,” he said. “However, this time around the Commissioners asked for multiple candidates and that’s what we gave them.”

By state statute, the Hertford County Commissioners have 60 days, from the time of Hunter’s resignation, to fill the vacated seat. That means the board has until March 1 to abide by the state law.

The person selected by the Commissioners will serve the remaining two years of Hunter’s unexpired four-year term. At the expiration of the term, the individual can choose whether or not to seek the seat through a traditional election cycle.

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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