What is best for Ramseur?

I don’t know Tim Cranford very well, but we’ve had a few conversations over the years, so I think I have some sense of how he feels about his hometown and the job he wanted to do as a commissioner. He came to the house and spoke with us for a couple of hours back in 2019 when he was running for his seat on the board and the one thing I took from that discussion above all else was how much Tim loves Ramseur. All he wanted to do was whatever was best for Ramseur.

With that in mind, I began thinking about Tim’s empty seat. Our town’s corporate charter stipulates that our town is supposed to be governed by five elected, or appointed, commissioners. I don’t believe Tim Cranford ever expected to be away so long, but just a few weeks ago he was quoted telling a mutual friend he feared he wouldn’t be able to run for office again this year. 

Tim Cranford wants what is best for Ramseur, and I can’t help but believe he’d want to see that seat filled and a full board of five citizens making those important decisions. Since only three people signed up to fill three seats for this November’s election, and two of those three people are already seated – one by appointment – I thought that perhaps the other members of the board might agree that the best thing for Ramseur is to move forward with the full board our founders intended us to have by seating the third of this year’s crop of three candidates. 

At last Tuesday’s meeting, there were many issues on the agenda: a new rec ball league, new vehicles to purchase, changes to the planning board, and a proposal for 1352 new “smart” water meters, among others. I had thoughts on all those topics that might have been useful: ideas that I didn’t hear anyone else suggest and which might have led to different outcomes or moved some items closer to a final vote, but if the four current commissioners don’t want to listen I can’t make them.

I wish there was a possibility that any one of us might lose in a four or five-way election where we actually have to work to gain our seats or some chance to go back to ignoring the trainwreck that is our local government for another few years. I had hoped there would be at least five candidates for you to pick from on November 7th, but that won’t be the case, because only three people bothered to file to run for those three seats. That’s it, you’re stuck with us for the next four years. 

Two of those three people are already seated commissioners; one elected, one appointed. The experts at the UNC School of Government have written about vacancies on municipal boards several times, and some of that is what I handed out to the commissioners last Tuesday night. I realize now that I should have emailed those documents to the board members earlier in the day so they could have read them ahead of time. That was my mistake, and I apologize.

In January 2013, Frayda Bluestein wrote: “A city or county board member may obtain a leave of absence for protracted illness or “other reason satisfactory to the governing body” of the city or county under G.S. 128-40 (counties) or G.S. 128-41 (cities). This appears to be an option that is rarely exercised. It must be initiated by the board member seeking the leave of absence and is approved by the governing body. While on leave the board member does not receive a salary but retains any sick leave to which he or she is entitled. The leave does not extend the term of office. These statutes also authorize the governing board to appoint a temporary replacement who must be qualified to hold the office and who has all of the “authority, duties, perquisites, and emoluments” of the official who is temporarily replaced.”

The commissioners are within their rights, legally and morally, to fill every seat at that desk. I have many constructive ideas that I don’t hear being brought up and I have over three decades of infrastructure and business experience to offer. I’m ready and able to go to work the second three commissioners, or two commissioners and a mayor, are ready to ask.