Guilford County Commissioner James Upchurch’s sudden resignation from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to take a job in Georgia has created an interesting situation when it comes to filling the vacated District 6 seat.
Usually, when a commissioner steps down mid-term, like former Guilford County Commissioner Ray Trapp, or dies in office, like the late County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman, they are replaced by a member of their own party.
In this case, however, Upchurch, a Republican, will be replaced by a Democrat, and the Democratic majority on the Board of Commissioners will grow from a 6-to-3 to a 7-to-2 majority.
Upchurch’s situation is interesting because, while Upchurch was serving on the board as a Republican, he was elected when running as a Democrat in 2020. One year after taking office, he changed his party affiliation to Republican – and he often voted accordingly.
North Carolina General Statute 153A-27.1 lays out the process for the Board of Commissioners to follow when vacancies occur on the board. The executive committee of the political party that nominated the elected official has 30 days to make a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners. The board will then vote whether or not to seat that nominee.
Once the seat is filled, Commissioners Pat Tillman and Alan Perdue will be the only two Republicans on the board.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, as the most powerful Democrat in Guilford County, will no doubt have a whole lot of say in who’s selected to fill the District 6 seat on the board that he currently chairs.
The Board of Commissioners will hold its next regular meeting Thursday Oct. 5 with only eight members. The board only needs five for a quorum so, even if three other commissioners resign between now and then, the board would still be able to function.