Between Monday morning, Dec. 7 and Monday afternoon, Guilford County government underwent a seismic shift.

That dramatic change in governance philosophy became crystal clear with the new Board of Commissioners’ very first non-procedural vote on Wednesday, Dec. 9 – and with the immediate reaction of former Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips, who had some very harsh criticism for the new board.

Phillips said the move that implements fines and could force business closures for failing to obey Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive orders is a major overreaction that the previous board, which had a 5-to-4 Republican majority, would never have approved.

On Dec. 9, the new board voted along straight party lines to implement fines for businesses and even individuals that don’t obey mask-wearing and other statewide edicts from Cooper.

“They tried to get me to do it two weeks ago,” Phillips wrote in a text message just moments after the board approved the fines and penalties Wednesday night to be enforced against those who don’t comply with the Cooper’s executive orders in response to the pandemic. “Not a chance.”

“It’s a terrible public policy on so many levels and, frankly, it’s an un-American abuse of power,” the former chairman stated. “Sweeping punitive citations, fines, and potential business closure for non-compliance is ‘police state’ kind of action we’ve never seen in our lifetimes.”

He went on to stress that the board that was ruling Guilford County prior to Dec. 7, with himself and former Commissioner Hank Henning, would never have approved that kind of action.

“It’s no coincidence they waited until Hank and I were out of their way to make things official,” Phillips wrote. “It would have been dead on arrival before the 7th. It’s a sad and disturbing day in Guilford County. I wonder when our citizens are going to wake up and tell these folks enough is enough?”