Proposal to incrase county commission from five to seven members put off until 2012
By Eric C. Deines
After being hit with several residents’ concerns about a rush to expand the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners, the board’s members agreed to push back its expansion to the year 2012.
Based on a motion by Commissioner Robert Carruth, the board voted 4-1 to seek legislation from the N.C. General Assembly that allows for the expansion of the board from five to seven members in 2012.
In the same vote, commissioners agreed that the 2010 election would give residents a choice as to whether the county would fall under district representation once the board expands in 2012.
A placeholder bill allowing for the expansion of the board in 2008 is prepared in the General Assembly.
“We want the majority of this board to be elected when a president is elected,” said Carruth, pointing out that currently three seat go up for re-election in off-year elections, which generate lower voter turnouts.
Options for the expansion of the board in 2008 included the appointment of two board members by the current commissioners, or nominations from the county’s Republican and Democratic parties. And both options drew concern during a public comment period of Monday night’s commission meeting.
Several residents asked for a countywide election for the two new seats.
Resident Manuel Kiser said some of the options for expansion would “change the rules in the middle of the game.”
Other residents also questioned the timing of the expansion in 2008.
“The appropriate time to make the decision is before the electoral season, not in the middle of one,” said Allison Kitfield, a downtown Concord resident.
Carruth said that the option for the current commission to select two new board members was never truly up for consideration, but merely a starting point.
“I never saw it as an option to appoint the members,” Carruth said. “
Commissioner Coy Privette opposed the board’s expansion, saying that the entire process should rely on current legislation that calls for a vote from the public.
Privette has also opposed district representation, saying that it leads to elected officials only looking after the welfare of their respective districts.
County Chairman Jay White said the board also hoped to avoid a special election for the two new board members, as the cost of such an election would be about $100,000.
• Contact Eric Deines: 704-789-9141.