Polk commissioners drop 4-year term pursuit

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, April 2, 2013


After hearing one Polk County Commissioner say if it is not broken, don’t break it to fix it, commissioners decided to drop a proposal to hold a referendum to increase terms to all four-years.

Commissioners met Monday, April 1 and did not second a motion to hold a referendum.

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Commissioner vice-chair Ted Owens said he listened to the tape of the public comments made at the last meeting concerning four-year terms and just to name a few, Jonathan Bole, Emily Clark, Dave Maxwell and others made some good points.

“One especially by Mr. Bole about Polk County did not have to be like the other 91 counties in our state and I completely agree with that,” said Owens. “Besides that, county commissioners were created by the North Carolina Constitution in 1868 and our present system of electing county commissioners has served us well over 100 years. As the old adage says, ‘if it is not broken, don’t break it to fix it.’ The bottom line is this, it is working well as is, so let’s not break it.”

The item was on the agenda was a carry over from the March 18 meeting where commissioners announced that the Polk County Republican Party approved a resolution asking state legislators to sponsor a local bill to change Polk commissioners’ terms from two and four-year terms to all four-year terms. The item during the last meeting sparked 12 residents to speak against the state changing Polk’s terms with most asking for a referendum on the issue.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson made a motion during the March 18 meeting to call for a referendum, with commissioner Tom Pack saying then he wasn’t prepared to vote.

Gasperson opened the agenda item on Monday prior to Owens’ statement with his same motion calling for a referendum in November 2014. After Owens’ comments, Gasperson seemed pleased his motion did not receive a second.

Gasperson said if a change in terms was going to be made he would hope it would be changed through a referendum.

“How I would vote in a referendum I’m still not certain,” Gasperson said. “I’ve had the privilege to have a two-year term, then elected to a four-year term. I think perhaps I’ve been a better commissioner because I had the two-year term.”

Commissioner Tom Pack said he’s spoken to people and most have said they are pleased the way it is or to put it for a referendum. Pack suggested during the county’s next meeting commissioners consider a resolution sending word to Senator Ralph Hise and Rep. Chris Whitmire saying Polk County is pleased with its current terms of office.

Owens said it’s a dead issue in the state already, but commissioners came to a consensus to place a resolution to send word to legislators on the next agenda.

The resolution approved by the Polk County Republican Party was never sent to legislation following the March 18 meeting due to the comments against it.

Polk County Commissioner terms of office include three commissioners up for re-election every two years. The top two vote getters receive four-year terms and the third vote getter receives a two-year term.