No one quite understood what was going on Thursday, Jan. 5 when the Guilford County Board of Commissioners held its first meeting of the New Year.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston was in his usual seat in the middle of the dais, and, at other meetings, Alston would have begun running the meeting.
However, at this first meeting of 2023, with no explanation given to anyone, Vice Chair Carlvena Foster began playing the role of chair with the usual very vocal Alston sitting quietly at her side.
Foster read motions, called on commissioners and did everything that longtime Chairman Alston has done during meetings in the past.
Other commissioners, when asked later, said they had no idea why Foster was running the meeting and said they had been wondering the same thing.
After the meeting, when the Rhino Times asked Alston about the change, Alston didn’t really provide an answer other than to say that he had no problem sharing the limelight.
Foster also did not provide an explanation.
Foster is serving as the vice chair under Alston for the second year in a row, but, when Alston is chair, the vice chair almost never gets to run a meeting because Alston rarely misses one.
Last year, when a county commissioners meeting was held in High Point, Alston did let Foster run the meeting since she represents a large number of constituents in that city.
However, neither the Rhino Times nor Alston could ever remember a time when the vice chair ran the meeting in the commissioners meeting room with the chairman in the room.
(In some rare cases in the past, when a board chair has had a conflict of interest connected to a particular motion, the chair has left the room for the discussion and vote on that particular motion and the vice chair has taken over.)
A week after Foster chaired the meeting, Alston did open up about what had transpired. He said that the board would be mixing things up in 2023 and that having Foster run the meeting was a good symbolic way of indicating what was coming.
He also said that the role of the vice chair is to be able to step in when the chair is absent and he said the experience would be good for that reason.
Alston said he gave Foster plenty of warning that she would be running the first meeting of the year, and he added that he informed Clerk to the Board Robin Keller a day or so before the meeting that Foster would be acting as chair that night.
When asked to assign Foster a grade on her performance as acting chair, Alston, the seasoned chairman who’s served on the board since the ’90s, said, “I’d give her an A – she didn’t make any mistakes.”