One of the advantages of having your party in control of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners is that you and your fellow party members on the board get to pick the chair for the year.

That’s an important position because – while he or she only gets one vote – the chair sets the board’s direction and priorities for the year and has a great deal of say over what gets included on meeting agendas. The chair also acts, to a large extent, as the public face of the board and speaks at major county events during his or her one-year stint.

For the last eight years, the Republican commissioners have held a majority on the board – but now the Democrats have a solid hold on that board and it’s a certainty that the board will elect a Democratic chair at the board’s first meeting in December when the new members, all Democrats, are sworn in.

Democratic Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, who has been chair of the board five times before in his long political career, said this week that no decision has been made as to who will be the next chair, but he added that he had informed the other Democrats on the board that he is interested in serving in that position.

Several Republican commissioners said this week that they are confident the Democrats will elect Alston to the seat for a sixth time.  

Alston said there will be some discussion about it in the coming days.

“We have until two weeks from today to make a decision,” Alston said on Monday, Nov. 23.   “It’s too early to call right now.”

Alston also said that, if the Republicans had held onto a majority of the board’s seats, Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue, the county’s former director of Emergency Services, would have been elected chair.

“Alan told me he was hoping to be chairman,” Alston said of remarks Perdue made to him after the election.

The board will hold a rare morning meeting in the first week of December to elect the new chair.

While Alston states a decision is yet to be made, the smart money is all on Alston – especially since most other Democrats on the board will be either brand new commissioners or commissioners who have expressed no interest in pursuing the position.