Two Republican Parties in Beaufort County – The Right Hand does not know what the Left Hand is doing | Beaufort County Now | An at-large system is better than single-member districts. A District system would cut your vote in half.

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Secret and highly confidential operations within the Beaufort County Republican Executive Committee and the headquarters in Pamlico Plaza are causing questions to be raised by the rank and file.  The petition for the change in the way we elect county commissioners is being presented as a Republican Party endorsed project.  This petition and the trickery used to get people to sign it have never been voted on by this Republican Executive Committee.

Some people, when they discover what they have signed and how they have been duped, are asking questions.  Several have said to me that the presentation by the Republican Party led them to sign without questioning the merits of the petition.  They thought it was a good thing to do because the Republican party presented it to them.  When they find the truth they are upset.

The petition to elect 4 commissioners from individual districts and then, two years later, electing 3 from three other districts means the voter has only one vote every four years.  Presently, they have two votes every four years.  The proposed system allows them to only vote for a person in the district they live in. At present they can vote for one candidate from any part of the County every two years.

How we elect commissioners in Beaufort County was a hot political item before this petition started.  For the Super Republican Executive Committee and the Republican insiders to halve the vote and leave out the Democrats, the unaffiliated voters and the public at large is pouring salt into this open wound.

Keith Kidwell started the effort to change the way we elect commissioners when he was chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party.  He could not get anywhere with it.  He dredged up a piece of legislation that he thought would work.  I discussed with him that there are many ways the 100 counties in North Carolina elect commissioners and that we needed to look at several of them and then select, once the various interested parties had had a say.  Keith Kidwell dropped the ball.  But, Kidwell believes the county sheriff can force the federal government out of his county.  With thoughts like that, maybe the wrong person was working this gig.

He and his cronies would not hear of anything but seven districts.  Kidwell and the liberal Republicans who are pushing this are not interested in changing the way we elect commissioners so much as they are in driving the conservative commissioners out of office.  That is what this is really about.

I proposed electing the Chairman and Vice Chairman at large.  This would eliminate the present corruption between liberal Republicans and Democrats in controlling the board.  For more than ten years at least two RINO’s form a pact with the two Democrats and elect a liberal Republican Chairman with a Democrat being Vice Chairman.  The only reason it has to be a Republican Chairman is there are five Republicans on the board.  In every case these Republicans vote with the Democrats.  So we actually have Democrats controlling the board in this very conservative county.  The Beaufort County Republican Executive Committee has been dominated by RINO’s and they refuse to make an issue of RINO disloyalty.

This system of Republican-Democrat corruption is getting us a 14 percent increase in spending this year.  Fake Frankie Waters is taking the money out of the fund balance so he will not have a tax increase this year. Fake Frankie is running for office this year.  Draining the fund balance can only last a short period of time.  Another tax increase is on the way.

Members of the Republican faction circulating the petition went to Raleigh, used the State districting computers and prepared a map to go with the petition.  Therefore, the districts that go with the petition are already decided.

We are including the map with this article. It is in color.  Whoever made this map tried to protect the seats of as many sitting commissioners as possible while providing an opportunity for someone to replace the conservative Republicans already seated.

The map looks like this.  The yellow district in the northwest corner of Beaufort County includes the residences of Jerry Langley, Tandy Dunn and Hood Richardson.  That means Republican Hood Richardson runs against Democrat Jerry Langley and one of us gets knocked out.  Of course, conservative Republican Tandy Dunn could also run and win,  Stan Deatherage has a district  in dark blue that runs from Washington to  Pinetown to Bath   Randy Walker has the district in green, from Washington Park to Bunyan and along the Pamlico River.  Frankie Waters has a district from Pinetown to Pike Road, to Belhaven to Pamlico Beach and back to Bath.   Ed Booth has a district in Washington, a minority-majority district.  On the south side of the river there is a district that includes Whichard’s Beach and runs along US 17 to the Craven County line. The final district includes Cypress Landing and east to the Pamlico County line. This district could be the second minority district.

With this arrangement you only get to vote once every four years.  What if you have a dud candidate in your district and no one else running.   It is difficult to get people to run for political office. Therefore, it is possible that all seven districts could elect dud commissioners.  Electing commissioners at large allows the pubic to select the best candidates from the entire county rather than having to deal with the local good old boy.  The present system allows minorities to select their best candidates from the entire county.

A district system discourages candidates from running.  Just look at the last few elections for the county Board of Education.  Very often the incumbent had no one to run against them.

Minorities not living in minority majority districts a will be disenfranchised and whites living in minority districts will also be disenfranchised from selecting their best candidates.  There is a good argument for electing better qualified people from larger pools of candidates (like the entire county). 

The reason this petition effort is conducted in secret is so there will be no public comment or questioning of the merits of districts. Any other system of electing commissioners would give people the opportunity to vote for more than two commissioners over a four year cycle.  Maybe electing the chairman and vice chairman at large every two (not four) years would be better.  It stops the Republican-Democrat corruption and gives voters five votes over the four year election cycle. 

The proposed system of districts is the worst system for electing commissioners.  It provides one vote every four years.  But, it provides the opportunity for Republican Party insiders to put a little money behind the right district people and continue to control the board, while it eliminates the long term conservative Republicans from office. 

This is really about the RINOs getting rid of the conservative Republicans.

I do not mind changing the way we vote for commissioners. The change should improve voting conditions. My complaint is about the, at best, unethical behavior of some Republicans.  They make all Republicans look bad.

Be careful of Republicans bearing gifts.  Please do not sign petitions unless you are very knowledgeable about what they intend to accomplish.

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( June 11th, 2022 @ 6:18 pm )
I do not see a problem with running at large, with each voter having six votes and an additional vote for the chairman. The chairman would not have to be the manager, maybe he would have that option. This arrangement would certainly cool down the King Frankie Syndrome and the corrupt practices between the Democrats and Republicans. The voters would be in charge. What a wonderful concept.
( June 10th, 2022 @ 7:55 pm )
Even though the preclearance requirements with the US DOJ are gone, having been ruled unconstitutional, Beaufort County is still subject to someone filing a motion in the old David Moore lawsuit, so we have to be very careful about the impact on minority voters. This limits our options but either a district plan or an all at-large plan are viable within certain parameters.

A district plan will need at least one majority minority district to be viable. It should have two but demographics have changed to the point that it is no longer possible to construct such a district in the eastern end of the county by jumping the river, as it had been in years past. In fact the only such district feasible is in the Washington area with 7 districts. With 6 districts, it would be highly problematic there.

Under an at-large plan, the more seats running in the same grouping gives minorities better mathematic odds. With seven seats and voters having seven votes, all would need to run at the same time and in the same group. Splitting these in any way would be seen as diluting the minority vote.

I like the idea of letting the voters rather than the politicians choose the commission chairman, especially if the chairman is a full time job, negating the need for a county manager. Buncombe County had such a system in the 1970s with conservative Republican Curt Ratcliff as full time county commission chairman until he left to run for Congress. the county never had a tax increase under his leadership. An elected official drawing up proposed budgets is always going to be more responsive and accountable to the citizens than an unelected bureaucrat.

As a practical matter, carving out a separate seat for the county commission chairman would mean having to raise the number of commissioners to nine, which may not go over so well. In an at-large plan, it would reduce the number of seats in the grouping to 6, therefore reducing mathematically the chances of election of minorities. With a district plan it would reduce the number of districts to 6 in a 7 member commission, making it problematical to draw a majority minority district.

Personally I could go with a district plan or an at-large plan. With an at-large plan, we could also restore the two year terms for commissioners that Beaufort County had for many many years until the backroom deal that gave us limited voting. Two years terms are much better for responsiveness and accountability, and what justification is there for four year terms for commissioners when US Congress, State Senate, and State House all serve two year terms?
( June 9th, 2022 @ 8:49 pm )
Steve, as I have mentioned before, I could favor two integral components of changing the way county commissioners are elected: 1) As much at large voting as is possible; 2) Concurrently, as many votes for county commissioners by the electorate as is possible.

You have my pledge of support if we can achieve both ideals, which are not mutually exclusive.
( June 9th, 2022 @ 7:22 pm )
Limited voting is absolutely the worst mechanism to elect local officials. Republicans in Beaufort County have opposed it since word first leaked out of the rotten backroom deal by the then all-Democrat commissioners had made to saddle Beaufort County with it. This is a system that the federal courts have ruled cannot be imposed by a judge unless the parties agree to it. It is a system rejected by British negotiators as totally undemocratic when proposed by the Red Chinese for the election method for Hong Kong.

It is a system that destroys accountability and responsiveness in government, as we have just seen recently with the adoption of a big spending budget for the county that will cause a tax increase next year. Yes, there may be some individual elected officials that remain responsive and accountable due to their strong personal character, but too many figure out that with limited government they do not have to be responsive or accountable so they are not.

Limited voting creates a lack of accountability and responsiveness because politicians figure out a niche of groups that will add up to the lower numbers for election, so they do not have to care about anyone else. That is compounded by staggered terms, which mean that around half of the commission are always two elections away from being held to account for what they do, and since over two cycles people often forget, these politicians feel free to do whatever they want.

What is needed to restore accountability and responsiveness to Beaufort County government is some type of majoritarian system, either all at-large or a district plan. Two year terms like we had before the backroom deal would enhance accountability and responsiveness. When US Congress, State Senate, and State House all have two year terms, there is really no justification for county commissioners having four year terms.

The idea of the voters instead of the politicians selecting the county commission chairman is a positive thing, as it further enhances accountability and responsiveness to the citizens. I particularly like the system Buncombe County had back in the 1970s where not only was the chairman's seat decided by the voters, but it was a full time job, doing away with the need for a county manager. It worked out a lot better having someone responsible to the voters putting together the proposed budget instead of an unelected bureaucrat. Conservative Republican Curt Ratcliff held that chairmanship in Buncombe under that system for many years until he ran for Congress, and the county never had a tax increase during his tenure.

Beaufort County can do a lot better than what we have now.
( June 9th, 2022 @ 3:48 pm )
Thank you, Carolyn, for admitting that I am correct about this situation. If this is disinformation please explain why Jody Forrest, the manager of the Republican Headquarters, is delivering signed petitions to the Board of Elections.

Now, we are going to discuss limiting the people's representation by cutting the votes for commissioners in half.
( June 8th, 2022 @ 10:22 pm )
This is disinformation. There are no secret meetings nor secret operations. All meetings are public. Officers meet once a month to prepare an agenda. The petition referred to above will be on the June 14 agenda for discussion. The BC Republican Party invites you to attend.

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