It came as a surprise to many people that the Democrats took control of the nine-member Guilford County Board of Commissioners in the Tuesday, Nov. 3 election, but this week Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips offered his view as to why it happened.
Phillips, who made his comments on the internet talk show “Locked In With Algernon Cash,” cited the national election and local school issues as the main reasons that all four of the open spots on the board in 2020 were won by Democratic candidates.
Phillips gave his answer after speaking about the accomplishments of the Republican-led Board of Commissioners for the last eight years – never raising taxes, establishing two Family Justice Centers, restoring civility to the board, etc. That brought up Cash’s question: Given the successes under the Republican-majority board, why did the county’s voters turn the board Democratic.
Phillips, who like Republican Commissioner Hank Henning, chose not to run to for reelection this year, said the national political mindset had something to do with it.
“I think some of that is the ‘I Hate Trump’ or ‘I dislike Trump’ vote,” Phillips said. “You have folks, regardless of who the candidate is, voting for the Democrat on the ticket.”
Phillips said another factor was the $300 million school bond referendum the commissioners put on the ballot. Some school advocates thought that wasn’t enough.
“That was a very contentious issue in our county in some circles that wanted a much, much bigger number on the ballot than the commissioners decided upon,” Phillips said of the school bond referendum that passed by a wide margin.
“I think that’s an element as well – but we were looking at the facts,” Phillips explained.
He said that, if the pandemic hadn’t come along and sent the county’s finances into turmoil, the amount of the school bond would have been higher.
“We were thinking of $700 million to $800 million early in the year, but, when so much changed so rapidly, we felt like it would not be prudent to put that much burden on taxpayers in the very near future.”