In a span of about five minutes time on Monday morning, Dec. 7, two new Guilford County commissioners were sworn in and Guilford County government underwent a seismic change.
Democratic Commissioners Carly Cooke and James Upchurch took their recently won seats on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, giving the board a Democratic majority for the first time since December 2012.
Another Democratic commissioner very likely to be seated soon is Mary Beth Murphy, who had 72 votes more than District 4 incumbent Commissioner Alan Branson in the November election. However, Branson is contesting those results and, due to that challenge, Murphy will have to wait to be sworn in after what’s widely expected to be a failed election challenge.
The two new commissioners kept their speeches brief in the socially distanced second-floor commissioners meeting room in the Old Guilford County Court House.
“I’m humbled by this responsibility I’ve been given,” Cooke said. “I’m committed to serving honestly and earnestly.”
She also said she was “incredibly hopeful” for what she can help the board achieve for Guilford County.
Upchurch also said he was very humbled by the honor and added that he is looking forward to working with all of the commissioners. Upchurch, 25, also called attention to the fact that he was the youngest Guilford County commissioner to ever be elected, and he said that, given that fact, he really appreciated the faith the voters showed in him by electing him.
The two were both sworn in by Guilford County Superior Court Judge Lora Cubbage.
Normally, during a December swearing-in ceremony, the meeting room would have been packed with family, friends, well-wishers and spectators. This year, due, of course, to COVID-19, the meeting room was largely empty other than the presence of close family and members of the media.