The makeup of Guilford County government has changed in a major way. 

But that’s not a reference to the fact that the nine-member Board of Commissioners went from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority.  No, the more interesting power change here is that the five women commissioners now outnumber the men on the board.  That’s thought to be the first time in Guilford County history that that’s ever happened – and the unity and the power of the female commissioners was in clear display at the Board of Commissioners’ Thursday, Jan. 21 meeting.

The female commissioners are all Democrats: Commissioners Kay Cashion, Mary Beth Murphy, Carly Cooke, Carolyn Coleman and Carlvena Foster. 

 The board reached this milestone after former Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson gave up on contesting the November election results and Murphy was finally sworn in three weeks ago.

At the meeting, Cooke began by expressing her excitement over Vice President Kamala Harris just being sworn in as the first woman vice president of the United States.

“I found that to be an extremely exciting event – I think it’s also exciting that we have a majority of women on this board.”

She added, “It’s an exciting year to be a woman in our community and I hope the young ladies in our community are watching all this and feel empowered to work hard and achieve their goal.”

It’s too early to say what the female majority will mean for the way the board governs the county. 

For the past eight years, the ultimate control of the board rested in the hands of five men, all Republicans.  Prior to that, the female dynamic did play a big role at times with women such as Coleman, Former Commissioner Linda Shaw and other women coming together across party lines to sway some decisions.

 In many votes this century, it’s been oblivious that the women, regardless of party, have gotten together and determined the outcome of votes.  It will be interesting to see if that happens with this current board.  It’s notable that now, if the five women agree on something, they can get what they want in Guilford County government without so much as a single vote from a man.

Foster said she was still celebrating the first female vice president and said that Harris is influencing women of all ages.

“It brought millions of women together,” Foster said.

Other female commissioners also called out the interesting change in county government – as did Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston.

“It just shows that there’s no limit on what a woman can do,” Alston said, “so I am proud of all the ladies on this board and all the ladies out there taking leadership positions.  We are better off because of what y’all are doing.”