Chair, vice-chair switch seats

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Beaufort County Commissioners elected a new chairman and vice-chairman Monday night.

Former Vice-Chairman Jerry Langley was elected as chairman. Former Chairman Gary Brinn was elected as vice-chairman. The two commissioners switched seats, and nameplates, after a two rounds of voting for chairman, a three-minute caucus and another vote for vice-chairman.

The process got off to an uneven start when Commissioner Hood Richardson asked to recuse himself from the vote for both seats. After discussion and consultation with County Attorney David Francisco, it was determined Richardson could only recuse himself if the majority of commissioners voted to let him.

Francisco asked for Richardson’s reason for the act, to which Richardson responded, “I don’t believe there’s anyone sitting on this board that has the character and integrity, among these men.”

The six other commissioners voted against Richardson’s recusal.

Three nominations for board chairman followed: Hood Richardson nominated himself; Ron Buzzeo nominated Gary Brinn; and Jerry Langley nominated Jerry Langley.

The vote was split with Richardson voting for himself, the remaining Republican Commissioners Gary Brinn, Ron Buzzeo and Frankie Waters voting for Brinn, and Democratic Commissioners Robert Belcher, Ed Booth and Langley voting for Langley. With no clear winner, Richardson requested a three-minute break to meet with commissioners.

“I’ll meet with the Democrats first,” Richardson said, as commissioners retired to the back room.

Langley was determined chairman by a one-vote margin during the next round of voting. Brinn was nominated as vice-chairman and elected to that position by a 6-1 vote. Richardson was the sole dissenting vote.