Generally, at board of commissioner meetings – in Guilford County and elsewhere – the clerk to the board keeps quiet and takes notes, and speaks up at meetings only to answer questions from the commissioners.

But that will all change for about two minutes on Thursday, Dec. 7, when longtime Clerk to the Board of Commissioners Robin Keller will actually take charge of the meeting and be the one running the show.

That interesting phenomenon takes place once a year in early December in the minute or two between the expiration of the term of the chair and vice chair of the Board of Commissioners and the election of a new chair and vice chair for the coming year.  Since the chairman may be up for reelection – as current Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston is once again this year – he or she can’t run the meeting, so things are turned over to the clerk.

Keller takes control, holds a vote, and then retreats back into the background for another year.

At the Thursday night meeting, Keller will get her moment in the sun right after the opening prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and speakers from the floor.  The agenda item reads, “Clerk to Board Robin Keller will conduct Election Of Chairman Of The Guilford County Board Of Commissioners for Calendar Year 2024.”

Keller actually did get to run the entire county government for a short time in late December of 2020 after the sudden departure of former Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing, and before new County Manager Mike Halford filled the position in early January.  At that time, a Rhino Times writer was raked over the coals by a number of completely humorless people who didn’t appreciate the tongue in cheek headline, “From Lowly Clerk To Top Of The Guilford County Government Heap.”

The Rhino Times staff, perhaps more than any other people in the community, understand the central and important role that city and county clerks play and know well that, in many ways, clerks are largely the ones running the counties and cities every day of the year – not just for two minutes in early December.