GOP takes control of Guilford County Board of Commissioners
With promises to bring more efficiency to government, Republicans took control Monday of the Board of Commissioners and installed a new leadership team with High Point connections.
Republicans won a 5-4 majority by taking three seats in the Nov. 6 elections. Veteran Commissioner Linda Shaw, who grew up in the High Point and Jamestown area, became chairwoman on a unanimous vote and Bill Bencini of High Point was elected vice chairman on a similar unanimous vote. Shaw has been a commissioner for 14 years during Democratic control.
“I am so glad that the Republicans have a majority,” Shaw said. “We have a lot of work to do to keep the tax rate down and we need more jobs and we need to work with small business more. The Republican victories in the elections send a message because the candidates have a lot of people helping them. I think the commissioners coming in have some good ideas.”
Shaw promised an “open” government process.
“I am looking forward to working with the new board,” Shaw said. “I’ll do my best not to disappoint the people.”
Bencini, a first term Republican who called himself an outgoing board “rookie,” had just a few words.
“I’m grateful to serve the people and I hope to do a good job,” he said.
Newcomer Republican Hank Henning, 37, of Jamestown won the open District 6 seat for which the state redistricting plan gave Republicans the edge. Redistricting also cut the number of districts from nine to eight and at-large seats from two to one. Henning promised in his campaign to work against property tax hikes.
“I’m just a citizen sitting up here looking over the public trust and the public funds,” Henning said. “I look forward to working with the others here.”
Democratic Commissioner Kay Cashion will be the at-large commissioner until 2014 when voters will choose one.
“We should do our work and leave partisanship outside the building,” she said.
Republican Jeff Phillips, a 50-year-old Greensboro investment adviser, was installed as District 5 commissioner. Phillips, a newcomer who has been close to the Conservatives for Guilford County, said he would continue to stand for his ideals. His campaign ideals included “limited government.” Phillips defeated veteran Democratic Commissioner Paul Gibson. C4GC followed county government closely for about two years and supported a slate of candidates. Voters also elected two other newcomers.
Jerry Alan Branson, a 45-year-old Julian resident and businessman, will represent District 4 for the next four years. He defeated two-term Democratic incumbent Commissioner Kirk Perkins. Unopposed Democratic newcomer Ray Trapp, a Greensboro real estate broker, is the new District 8 commissioner. He succeeds retiring 20-year veteran Democratic Commissioner Skip Alston of Greensboro.
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Shift: Republicans took control of the board in 1991 and installed High Pointer Steve Arnold as chairman. The GOP lost control in 1993 when Democrats regained the majority and the board was expanded to 11 members from seven to make it the largest in the state.