Tina Hall switches to Republican Party
By Lee Barnes
Rowan County Commissioner Tina Hall is changing her party registration from Democrat to Republican.
Hall is one of two Democrats on the board. Her change of party will leave Raymond Coltrain as the sole remaining Democrat.
With her party change, she will become the first-ever Republican woman on the board.
In a prepared statement Friday, she said that she was making the switch “after a great deal of thought and with humility.”
“Three years ago I was elected by voters from all of Rowan County: Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated,” she said in the statement. “I promised open government discussions, restraint on property taxes, proper use of school funding, and overall support of effective county services.
“My stand worried some of my Democratic party officials and I now feel more closely aligned with the fiscally conservative Republican Party. I pledge to continue serving all citizens of Rowan County, and yes, I will continue to ask questions.”
The first-term commissioner was elected to the board in 2006, marking the first time two Democrats were on the board in nearly 20 years.
Two years earlier, Hall was the top vote-getter among Democrats in the commissioners’ race, but lost out to two Republicans.
She is only the third woman to ever serve on the board, after Jamima DeMarcus in the 1980s and Leda Belk from 2000-2004.
Last Democrat standing Coltrain said Friday that he respects Hall’s decision.
“I am not a party politician,” he said. “I’m an issues politician. I don’t see the change as having much of an effect.”
County Democratic Party Chairwoman Genoal Russell said she wasn’t sure what effect the switch will have on her party.
“Your guess would be as good as mine,” she said.
Republicans have been the party of strength in Rowan County for decades. Last year, Barack Obama narrowly beat Republican John McCain in North Carolina in the presidential election, but got only 38 percent of the votes in Rowan County.
Registered Republican voters here outnumber Democrats 36,807 to 33,121, with 19,301 unaffiliated and 41 Libertarians.
Commissioner Hall graduated from Boyden High School in 1968. She finished her undergraduate studies at Catawba College in 1971 and earned her master’s degree from Clemson University in 1972. She completed coursework for a doctorate at Duke University in 1978.
She was a teacher, assistant principal, director and principal before retiring in 2003 with 31 years in education.
After announcing her plans to retire, she changed her mind and asked to remain one more year as principal at Landis Elementary School. The superintendent refused her request but said she could apply for the job she had held for 21 years. She wasn’t chosen, and lost an appeal to the school board in 2003.
She has been an outspoken critic of forced annexation, and has been particularly critical of Salisbury’s forced annexation of the Rowan County Airport.