At the Monday morning, Dec. 7 meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, the brand new board went back to an old well when it came to finding a chairman.

The commissioners chose longtime county commissioner Skip Alston to lead the board for the next 12 months.

Alston, who was first sworn in as a commissioner in 1992, has now been elected chairman by his fellow commissioners a half dozen times.

As soon as Alston was elected chairman in the early December “Procedural” meeting, he took his seat in the middle chair of the dais – the seat with the county seal and the American flag behind it, the gavel next to it and the “batphone” underneath it. (Though these days county chairs mostly text staff during meetings, rather than whisper on the batphone, if they need to discuss something.)

In the past, Alston has often been something of a lightning rod for attention as chairman – with some county voters loving him and others being constant and harsh critics.

On this morning, Alston sounded like a peacemaker.

“I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the opportunity again to serve the people of this county,” Alston said, adding that, without God, he wouldn’t have been able to do any of it.

“I would also like to thank my wife for allowing me to come back three years ago,” Alston said, referring to a five-year hiatus he took from the board.

Alston also noted that, in 1992, when sworn in as a commissioner for the first time, his son was 11 months old. He pointed out that, now, his grandchildren – one little girl who’s “four years old going on 15” and another grandchild who is 6 months old – were in the audience.

Alston said being a commissioner has been an important part of his life and he was very grateful to the people of District 8 who elected him.

He said he was also grateful to the commissioners who voted for him to be chairman for a sixth time.

Commissioner Alan Branson, a Republican who is still on the board thanks to his ongoing election protest, voted to abstain. The other commissioners all voted in favor of Alston being chair.

“I promise you that I will be fair in dealing with each and every last one of you,” Alston told them.