Pasquotank board elects Dixon chair, Griffin vice chair


District Court Judge Eula Reid (left) administers the oath of office to new Pasquotank County Commissioner Barry Overman, in Courtroom C of the county courthouse, Monday evening. Holding the Bible is Overman's wife, Jeanette.


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Pasquotank County commissioners voted unanimously Monday for two Democrats to serve as the commission board’s chairman and vice chairman for the next two years, but only after competing nominations from a new Republican commissioner failed.

Commissioners agreed to name Jeff Dixon the Board of Commissioners’ new chairman and Lloyd Griffin to be the vice chairman. The votes followed the swearing-in of four commissioners for new, four-year terms at Monday’s meeting. County Clerk Lynn Scott explained the board has to hold a reorganizational meeting every December.

Taking the oath of office for the first time as county commissioners were Republicans Barry Overman and Sean Lavin, and returning Democratic Commissioners Cecil Perry and Charles Jordan. District Court Judge Eula Reid administered their oaths of office, in which each commissioner pledged to carry out their duties and uphold the U.S. and North Carolina constitutions.

Democrats Bill Sterritt and Joe Winslow stepped down as commissioners after losing their re-election bids in last month's election.

Prior to Dixon and Griffin, Perry and Sterritt served as the board’s chairman and vice chairman, respectively.

The chairman presides over commissioner meetings, and is expected to act as a face for the county, appearing at community functions and representing its interests to outside officials. The vice chairman fills in when the chairman is absent; he also traditionally chairs the county's finance committee meetings.

Lavin nominated Griffin for chairman, but the nomination died for lack of a second. Lavin then nominated fellow GOP Commissioner Frankie Meads as vice chairman. Lavin, Meads and Overman, the board's three Republicans, supported that nomination, but were outvoted by the board’s four Democrats: Dixon, Griffin, Jordan and Perry.

When it came time to vote on Dixon and Griffin’s nominations, all three Republicans voted for their appointments.

Dixon thanked commissioners for choosing him, and also thanked Perry for serving as the board’s past chairman.

“He has served us well for the last two years,” Dixon said, noting Perry had acted as chair while the county hired a new county manager and won voters' support for a quarter-cent sales tax levy for school funding.

He also presented Perry a commemorative gavel. Perry commented he feels “blessed” to live and serve in his home county.

In a followup interview Tuesday, Dixon said his priorities as chairman include economic development and supporting public schools. Commissioners will also seek meetings with the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education, the Elizabeth City City Council, and with state lawmakers next year, he said.

Dixon also said he plans to take a “more proactive role” in the county's ongoing, confidential legal talks with Sentara Healthcare, which leases and operates Sentara Albemarle Medical Center. Since March 2017, the county has spent more than $138,000 on special legal counsel in those talks, according to county staff. Despite the large expense, Pasquotank and Sentara officials have refused to discuss the issue driving their talks.

Dixon said it's unclear when the matter will be resolved, and, while Pasquotank is defending its interests, it's “anybody's guess” if the outcome will be a win for the county.