New board casts first split votes

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

HAMLET — Well that didn’t take long.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Board members Joe Richardson and Dr. Irene Aiken were sworn in for an additional term with family members standing by them in support.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Board members Joe Richardson and Dr. Irene Aiken were sworn in for an additional term with family members standing by them in support.

The new seven-member Richmond County Board of Education, including newly sworn-in members Bobbie Sue Ormsby and Don Greene, took advantage of its first two votes to put split decisions on permanent record.

The issues? The rather ordinary election of the board chairman and vice chairman.

Incumbent Dr. Irene Aiken nominated board chair Wiley Mabe to remain in that position. There were no other nominations, and after a brief but silent pause, board member Tom McInnis motioned to close the nominating period. Mabe garnered five of the six ballots. Incumbent Jerry Ethridge cast the lone dissenting vote.

Even with a 5-1 split, the vote was rather routine — until Aiken (by McInnis) and Ormsby (by newcomer Don Greene) were the only two nominations for vice chair.

The first vote was split — McInnis, Aiken and Mabe for Aiken and Greene and Orsmby for Ormsby. Board members Jerry Ethridge and Joe Richardson again declined to cast a vote by raising their hands.

Mabe noted the board needed a majority, or four of seven, of votes for the vote to be official. A second vote, however, yielded the same result.

Mabe sighed.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com New board member Don Greene, right is sworn in Thursday morning.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
New board member Don Greene, right is sworn in Thursday morning.

“We can do this for a while until somebody gives, or we can suspend the rules and go by majority vote,” Mabe said.

Retiring Superintendent Dr. George Norris suggested to seek counsel from board attorney George Crump III, who maintained the process should be open and transparent.

“This is democracy at its core,” said Crump, noting it was a good lesson in democracy for the youth in the audience who had come to watch family members be sworn into office by Clerk of Superior Court Vickie Daniel.

Crump reminded board members that it’s board policy that they must vote, “good or bad, up or down.”

Crump cited Policy 2342, which notes that board members “must vote on all issues unless a member has a conflict of interest or is unable to remain impartial.”

“It’s every board member’s duty to vote,” Crump said.

Mabe encouraged one more vote. Richardson said he was abstaining.

“I cannot in good faith support either of those candidates,” Richardson said. “I cannot cast a vote against my better judgment.”

Likewise, Ethridge also declined to vote.

“I don’t like politics played beforehand,” he said. “I’m not going to vote one way or another. I don’t think that’s for the betterment of the school children of Richmond County.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Bobbie Sue Ormsby was the top vote-getter in last November's general election.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Bobbie Sue Ormsby was the top vote-getter in last May’s primary election.

The vote remained the same the third time around. Mabe opted to go with the majority of votes cast.

Aiken admitted she was “shocked that my colleagues don’t feel they can support me.”

 

 

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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