It’s good to be the king – and Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson must also believe it’s good to be the chairman.
That’s because Branson sought, and won, the right to sit in the chairman’s seat for another 12 months. Branson, who was first elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners in 2012, was elected chairman last year and on Monday, Dec. 3, the Board of Commissioners voted to give him that leadership role a second time on an 8-to-1 vote.
The board also elected Commissioner Jeff Phillips as the vice chairman for the coming year. Phillips managed to win that seat on a unanimous vote.
The election of the chairman took place at a special morning meeting in the poinsettia-decorated second-floor commissioners meeting room in the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro. Since the board has a 5-to-4 majority of Republicans over Democrats, everyone knew the chairman would be a Republican, but there was a good deal of mystery over which Republican it would be.
Commissioner Justin Conrad, who had served as vice chairman of the board for the last 12 months, had gone back and forth over whether he wanted the chairman’s seat this year, and everyone agreed that Conrad would have the job if he wanted it.
Conrad said right after the vote that in the preceding weeks he’d thought long and hard about whether he should seek the chairmanship. Conrad’s mother just passed away and he said immediately after the Dec. 3 meeting that this just may not have been the right time for him to lead the board. He said he wanted to make sure whoever did lead the board in 2019 could give it their full attention.
Branson said the final decision wasn’t made until the weekend before the meeting.
“We had discussions until late Friday night and he wouldn’t come in,” Branson said of Conrad’s decision not to become chair.
With Conrad taking himself out of the running, it came down to Branson or Phillips for chairman. Republican Commissioner Hank Henning said after the vote that he thought one key factor in the board’s selection of Branson rather than Phillips as chairman is that Phillips has already served in that role twice, whereas Branson has only had one year at the helm.
Henning added that, in one regard, it wasn’t that important which of the five Republicans was chairman: Henning said the group works together well and is a fairly cohesive unit so there’s not a great deal riding on who is chairman.
Commissioner Carolyn Coleman was the one no vote against Branson. The two have been snippy with each other in meetings quite a bit over the last 12 months and at times Coleman has accused Branson of not letting her say her piece in meetings and she said that’s one reason she voted against Branson.
Coleman said after the meeting that she didn’t have the same issue with Phillips, who she voted for vice chairman.
“Jeff wasn’t like that,” she said.