Republican NC Rep. Jon Hardister has filed a new bill that has passed in the NC House and is expected to pass in the NC Senate next week. The laser-focused part of the bill that applies to the Guilford County Board of Education is meant to, in no uncertain terms, settle the question of who will serve in the board’s District 3 seat, which has been the focus of a legal and political battle all year long.
Hardister’s bill, in very clear language, would allow the Guilford County Republican Party to fill the Guilford County school board’s District 3 seat with the party’s choice – likely to be teacher Michael Logan – rather than the man Democrats put on the board in a surprise vote that occurred as the school board’s two Republican members were kept in the dark.
In November of last year, former Republican School Board Member Pat Tillman was elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, vacating his District 3 seat on the school board. While the local Republican Party legally had the ability to fill that position, the Democratic members of the board repeatedly voted against seating Logan – though, Hardister said, the vote to put Logan on the board was meant to be merely a “procedural” vote. He said the vote was never intended to allow the opposing party the choice of rejecting the candidate put forth by the party filling the vacancy.
On Tuesday, April 4, the six Democrats on the nine-member school board went against the will of the Guilford County Republican Party – and against the intent of state law – and placed Republican Bill Goebel in the District 3 seat rather than Logan.
Hardister passed a bill previously meant to undo the shifty move by the Democrats; however, the Democrats on the board – along with the school’s attorney– crafted the plan that claimed a legal loophole allowed the Democrats to name their selection to the board.
Hardister said on Monday, July 3, that the intent of state law was clear and it was simply wrong of the Democrats on the board to try and hijack the seat and name their own selection.
He also said that the new bill has been vetted by the NC School of Government and he feels confident it will remedy the current situation by removing Goebel and once and for all allowing the Guilford County Republican Party to fill the seat.
“I’m hoping this will take care of it,” Hardister said of the new legislation, adding that he feels “very confident,” the bill will pass in the NC Senate once that body is back in session after the Fourth of July holiday.
He said he had consulted at length with the NC School of Government, which he pointed out was a “non-partisan third-party” that government leaders often consult with on legal and political matters.
“The General Assembly has the authority to do it,” Hardister said.
He added that once, in the last century, the NC General Assembly removed every commissioner from the Hyde County Board of Commissioners, and that move survived a legal challenge in the courts.
“This is not something I take lightly,” he added.
The new bill, he said, is meant, among other things, to save taxpayer money and private money from being expended in a lengthy court battle.
Hardister said it was very surprising that the Democrats on the Board of Education went to the lengths they went to in their attempt to make an end run around the intent of the law – which has always been for the local Republican Party to fill that vacancy on the board, rather than the majority of school board members.
Hardister pointed out that, on the night the Democrats put Goebel on the board, Logan expected to be seated. Logan showed up at the meeting with family members and a bible for the swearing in before being blindsided by the Democrats on the board.