County government waits for new board, county manager
Rowan County government is in a holding pattern, waiting for its new county manager and three new commissioners.
Much like when U.S. Congress meets after elections, a majority of the current crop of county commissioners are lame ducks. Though they still have decision making power, Jim Sides, Chad Mitchell and Jon Barber will be average Rowan county residents at the start of December. Perhaps, their title — former county commissioner — will still hold weight in Rowan County, but in large part, the trio won’t, or shouldn’t, have more say in politics than any regular resident.
With so many candidates running for the board of commissioners, it’s unclear how the board could change. A few front-runners are intermingled in the pack of 9, but without a vote, predictions mean little.
With three Republicans, two Democrats and three unaffiliated candidates running, the commission’s makeup and ideologies could be completely different in December. Perhaps we’ll see multiple unaffiliated candidates win spots on the board of commissioners. It’s surely possible that the board could remain entirely Republican, as it currently stands.
Vice-chairman Craig Pierce said he prefers to wait on any significant decisions at least until new county manager Aaron Church starts on Oct. 1. Pierce’s term expires in two years.
“We’re not going to move forward with any big initiatives,” Pierce said. “We are kind of in a holding pattern until after the election, but we are closing up some of the initiatives that we put forth.”
He used the Rowan County Animal Shelter expansion as one example of a significant project that could wrap up before new commissioners take their seats. The expansion is valued at $500,000.
State Sen. Gene McLaurin nabbed another endorsement this week from the North Carolina Chamber PAC, the political arm of the state’s chamber of commerce.
In the latest round of endorsements, the PAC endorsed a bevy of state legislature candidates in both the House and Senate. McLaurin’s name was one of 25 Senate candidates and more than 30 House candidates.
McLaurin responded to the endorsement by expressing his gratitude.
“With over 30 years experience working for both large international companies and small businesses, I understand how state government can help foster economic growth and create jobs, especially in our rural communities,” he said.
It seems that presidential speeches require responses in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) and N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis both released statements following President Barack Obama’s Wednesday speech about the nation’s response to ISIS.
As has become common with Tillis, he used the opportunity to tie Hagan to Obama and attack both at the same time, something Tillis is doing with increasing regularity.
“The President and Senator Hagan have been leading from behind, ignoring ISIS for too long, and the world is now less safe as a result,” Tillis said near the end of his statement. “Our nation is in desperate need of new leadership to confront the monumental challenges we face at home and abroad.”
Hagan agreed, to some extent, with Obama in her response, but also touted her efforts.
“The President and our military leadership have now developed a plan to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels and defeat ISIS with a sustained campaign of airstrikes,” Hagan said in her statement. “As long ago as the spring of last year, I pressed the Administration to arm and empower moderate Syrian rebels and I am glad that effort will be accelerated.”
The U.S. Senate passed the The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act Thursday, meaning the bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill, if passed, provides a cost-of-living adjustment to benefits for veterans and surviving immediate family members of deceased veterans.
The veterans’ increase would be identical to social security benefits.
If passed, it would increase compensation starting Dec. 1.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.