Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Chairperson Toni Stewart is not seeking to retain the board’s chairperson position, she said on Friday, as the commissioners prepare to vote on Monday for the board’s officers for the upcoming year.
The chairperson of the board of commissioners presides over commission meetings and makes many personal and public appearances to represent the county, Stewart said.
Vice Chairperson Glenn Adams, who previously served as chairperson, has expressed interest in the post again, Stewart said. Adams could not be reached for comment.
Stewart said she is not seeking to be the chairperson in 2024 because she will be busy seeking reelection.
“It’s my year to run for office — even though you never stop running — and being chair is an awful lot,” Stewart said. It would be difficult to balance the chair’s workload while running her reelection campaign, she said.
Stewart, who was the vice chair before she was elected chair a year ago, said she would like to be vice chair again.
“I still have a lot of things that I want to finish, and I think I will probably have a better opportunity if I was vice chair,” she said. “However, I think that everybody has an opportunity, if they don’t drop the ball.”
Republicans feel left out
Seven people serve on the board of commissioners. Five are Democrats and two are Republicans.
Commissioner Jimmy Keefe said on Friday the Democrats have not supported Republican commissioners for the officer positions, pointing to himself and Michael Boose.
“I’ve been trying to get into a leadership position for the last 10 years,” Keefe said. “I was the chair in 2013. But I was a Democrat then.”
He later changed his party affiliation to Republican.
“I anticipate that there’s probably been some — some conversations that I wasn’t included in,” Keefe said. “That will happen. But typically the vice chair is selected as the chair. But I’m not sure where the vice chair votes are going to be.”
Stewart said it’s a partisan board, and partisan politics often come into play.
She sometimes was criticized by her fellow Democrats, she said, when she voted with Republicans Keefe and Boose.
“Some people look at it just like that — ‘Well, she’s not a real Democrat because she voted with some Republicans,’ and not know the why,” Stewart said.
The critics didn’t know that Stewart looked at the issues carefully and made what she thought was the right decision for the people, she said.
Among Cumberland County’s 210,905 registered voters (as of Nov. 25):
Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. Monday in Room 118 of the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse.
Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and firstname.lastname@example.org.