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TMCNet:  Shaw running for Guilford County Commissioners Chairman

[November 09, 2012]

Shaw running for Guilford County Commissioners Chairman

Nov 09, 2012 (News & Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Linda Shaw, a long-time Republican on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, said Friday that she wants to be chairman following the GOP's election success in winning its first majority in years.


Some of the board's new -- and still to be sworn in -- Republicans say not so fast.

Shaw will be the board's senior Republican. The chairmanship traditionally has gone to the majority party -- Democrats for most of the past 20 years and for all of her 14 years on the board.

"I have more experience than any of them on the board, I think," Shaw said. "I've been through quite a few budgets. I know all the players, all the citizens and leadership of Greensboro and High Point. I feel like this is my time." But her declaration hit a bump in two of the three Republicans elected Tuesday to their first terms on the board. They said it's too early to say who will be chairman. No one has yet consulted them, they said.

"We need to sit down as a group and discuss it and see where everyone is," said Hank Henning, who will be the new commissioner from District 6. "We haven't done that yet." Henning said seniority shouldn't necessarily determine who is chairman.

"We need to sit down and see what our agenda is going to be as far as moving the county in the right direction and who's the best person to advance that agenda," Henning said.

Jeff Phillips, who will be commissioner in District 5, said he wants the new majority to decide as a team.

"This should be a unified team discussion and decision," Phillips said. "I'm open-minded and willing to discuss all options to come to a positive conclusion on behalf of the people of Guilford County. That's the most important thing." Jerry Alan Branson, who will represent District 4, said that the chairmanship needs more discussion, but that seniority should affect the decision.

"I think the ones in seniority should have the first opportunity to serve," he said.

Branson also said the incoming commissioners plan to meet with the sitting Republicans on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Once the new commissioners are sworn in, all five of the board's Republicans could not meet in private. State open meetings law prevents a majority of any elected board from meeting without notice and in secret. Until the swearing-in, all five could legally meet in private.

The chairman sets the board's meeting agendas and runs its meetings. The chairman and vice chairman are elected by a majority vote of their fellow commissioners.

Although Republicans and Democrats have worked together as chairman and vice chairman, the top job has traditionally gone to a commissioner from the majority party.

Shaw has been on the board since 1998 but has been active in Republican politics for much longer. Her late husband, Bob Shaw, was a Republican state senator, and she has worked closely with the Guilford County and state Republican party organizations for 50 years. But this will be the first board with a Republican majority since Shaw became a commissioner.

The next-longest serving Republican on the board is Commissioner Bill Bencini, who Shaw said would like to be her vice chairman.

"We're supporting each other," Shaw said.

Bencini couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Shaw may not actually need the three new commissioners' votes to become chairman. She said some of the board's Democrats have already told her she'll have their support. She also received calls from leaders in Greensboro and High Point encouraging her to run, she said.

"I wasn't going to run at first," Shaw said. "But I got quite a few phone calls. Democrats on the board have encouraged me, and I hope I'll have my Republicans' support, too. I think I will." Contact Joe Killian at 373-7023 or joe.killian@news-record.com.

___ (c)2012 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) Visit the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) at www.news-record.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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