Moving forward together

Published 2:09 pm Wednesday, December 5, 2018

JACKSON – Three first-time commissioners took their seats on the Northampton County board here Monday morning. Nicole Boone, Kelvin Edwards, and Joyce Buffaloe were sworn into office to begin their four-year terms serving the county’s citizens.

Recently reelected Clerk of Court Laquitta Green-Cooper administered the oath to the three new commissioners in the county courthouse’s Superior Courtroom in front of a crowd of proud family members and other local citizens. Afterwards, the board members moved into their usual meeting space to conduct a regular meeting.

Rich Square resident Boone will represent District 3, a seat that was previously held by Chester Deloatch. Boone is the daughter of the late Northampton Commissioner James C. Boone.

“I do not take this lightly. As I looked up, I happened to see my father’s photo over there on that wall, and it’s like he’s looking at me,” Boone said, noting the photos of former commissioners which are displayed inside of the meeting room.

Boone thanked her family for their support and encouragement during her campaign, and she vowed to work together with the other commissioners to create progress within the county. She asked the citizens to hold them accountable as they performed their duties.

“I want to thank the citizens who voted,” she said. “And to the citizens that did not prefer us as their officials, we want to talk with them as well. We want to communicate. We want to know what are their concerns and how we can move forward together. That is what our purpose is.”

Joyce Buffaloe from Margarettsville will now hold the District 4 seat long-held by Robert Carter.

Buffaloe too thanked her family and the citizens for their support as she addressed those who attended the Monday ceremony and meeting. She said the day was an occasion she’d never forget.

“I stand before you to serve you to the best of my ability,” Buffaloe said. “You have placed me here to do a job to help move Northampton County forward. We can move it forward together.”

The District 5 seat, previously held by Fannie Greene, will now be occupied by Kelvin Edwards of Pleasant Hill. Before running for the Board of Commissioners, Edwards held a seat on the county’s Board of Education.

“I’ve been on a listening and learning tour for about a year,” Edwards explained of his desire to hear from citizens all over the county.

“You cannot prosper and move forward in isolation,” he continued. “When we started this quest, all three of us felt that there was just too much isolation in Northampton County.”

Edwards asked for the citizens to hold each commissioner accountable in order to ensure change will happen. He noted how often residents have to leave the county for access to more shops, restaurants, and even health care facilities. Change takes time, he recognized, but it has to start somewhere. He thanked everyone, including his family, for support.

“Let’s work together to move Northampton County, the county we love, forward,” he concluded.

Board Chairman Charles Tyner and Vice Chair Geneva Faulkner welcomed their fellow new commissioners to the board. The two are now halfway through their first term as commissioners, having been elected in 2016. In comments at the end of the meeting, both Tyner and Faulkner echoed the themes of working towards change and moving forward together.

“All of the current commissioners ran on a platform of change,” Tyner explained. “Change is absolutely necessary. We cannot continue to operate county business the way that we did 20 years ago. Our needs are not the same. Our county has become stagnant.”

Tyner asked his fellow board members to work together to develop a strategic plan by February which will then be shared with all the citizens throughout the county. He emphasized the importance of economic development, clean drinking water, support for education, investment in opportunities, and more.

“Moving forward is not necessarily about me and my generation but what we build today, tomorrow, and in the years to come, will set the stage for future generations. I believe that if we plan together and work together, we can grow together and make things happen and move things forward to create a better Northampton County for all of our citizens,” he concluded his speech.

In her comments, Faulkner also emphasized the importance of change, using a metaphor about how a house needs to be maintained to continue to be habitable.

“Sometimes people like to do things they’ve always done because that’s comfortable. We are not in a comfortable position in our county,” she explained.

Faulkner wrapped up her comments by welcoming the commissioners, saying, “it will be a pleasure to serve alongside these three very energetic and very innovative and smart people.”