Guilford County government has reached the end of an era.
That happened quietly in a large and mostly empty room after a closed session at the end of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19. The commissioners came out, announced some raises for select county staff and then voted to adjourn. That brought about the end of eight years of Republican rule of the board, which followed 14 years of Democratic rule.
Starting with the board’s next meeting in the morning on Monday, Dec. 7, the board will be ruled by a Democratic majority. The nine-members with seven Democrats and only two Republicans. Guilford County Republican Commissioner Alan Branson is fighting to keep the District 4 seat that he lost to Democratic contender Mary Beth Murphy – but even if Branson pulls off a miracle, the Board of Commissioners will still be firmly in the hands of the Democrats. Some of those Democratic commissioners – Skip Alston, Carolyn Coleman and Kay Cashion – were on the board when the Republicans took the power in 2012 and they will be joined by new faces.
Republican Commissioners Justin Conrad and Alan Perdue will return to their seats on the new board but they will be returning to a totally different experience. The Republican majority – five white Republican men – have collectively called the shots when it comes running Guilford County for the last eight years but being on the board as part of the minority is completely different. Instead of determining how the county’s $500-million plus budget is spent, the two will often be relegated to speeches in opposition to what the Democrats are doing.
In Guilford County politics there are often some things the board can unanimously agree on – however, starting with early December when the new commissioners are sworn in, Guilford County government will be radically different from the way it has been since 2012.