Langley is lone Democrat

Published 8:03 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jerry Langley is the lone Democrat in a Beaufort County commissioners race already crowded with Republicans.

And he’s not too thrilled about having that distinction.

“Part of me believes that some people really don’t have time for it, and I think others don’t care for all the drama, the posturing, grandstanding that some commissioners do,” said Langley, an incumbent. “They don’t want to get caught up in the madness of it. But we really do need for some Democrats to step up and say they want to be a part of the process.”

Some of the difficulty in Democratic recruiting flows from the fact that the Rev. Robert Cayton, one of Langley’s two Democratic colleagues on the board, is surrendering his seat to run for state House in District 3.

As of Wednesday, five Republicans had come forward to help fill the void that Cayton will leave when his current term expires at the end of the year.

If no other Democrat steps into the mix, Langley could end up one of two Democrats left on a board that has been dominated by Republicans for about 10 years.

“That is not good, and I don’t think that’s an accurate representation of the community,” said Langley, who’s had a slot on the board since 2000. “I’ve always felt that the entire community deserves to be represented on that board. And when you have seven commissioners, there’s no reason that everyone’s concerns cannot be talked about or their needs met within those seven commissioners.”

Langley said he was first attracted to the post because “there was a need” to represent average residents.

“I think there are a lot of people who identify well with me,” he said. “I’m pretty much the average guy. I’m not a business owner. I’m a state employee. I get up and I go to work. I don’t have great assets. I’m the guy who cuts his own grass and weed eats his own ditch.”

In his first term, Langley was known for being somewhat taciturn, but he’s become more vocal, particularly during his ongoing tenure as chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

“I’m very approachable,” he said.

Langley and other commissioners did arouse the ire of some people when they declined to express their preferences for suitors interested in buying what was known as Beaufort Regional Health System and its hospital, Beaufort County Medical Center in Washington.

“The reason I did that is because when you’re a decision-maker you should never lean to the left or the right,” he said, “you should stay in the middle of the road.”

The county’s move regarding the eventual sale of BRHS was “a business decision,” and deserved careful deliberation, he said.

A Washington-area resident, Langley resides with his wife, Alice Langley.

The candidate is a judicial-services coordinator based in the Beaufort County Courthouse.

He’s also a church elder, preaching at Zion Grove Church of Christ (Disciples of Christ) in Columbia.