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Panel to meet Nov. 27 on Hanig's successor

Bryan Bass.jpg

Bryan Bass, chairman of the Currituck County Executive Committee.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Sunday, November 11, 2018

CURRITUCK — Four Currituck Republicans — two men and two women — have already expressed interest in filling the expected vacancy on the county Board of Commissioners created by Bobby Hanig’s election to the state House last week.

Hanig, chairman of the commission board, defeated Democrat Tess Judge in Tuesday’s general election to win the newly drawn House seat in District 6. Because state lawmakers can’t simultaneously hold local office, Hanig said last week he tentatively plans to resign on Dec. 4.

Bryan Bass, chairman of the Currituck Republican Executive Committee, said last week the panel is already moving to recommend a successor to Hanig to the Currituck Board of Commissioners. The person commissioners appoint will complete the remaining two years on Hanig’s four-year term.

Bass said he first started receiving inquiries six weeks ago about the possibility of a vacancy on the Board of Commissioners should Hanig win the House District 6 election.

Bass declined to identify the four Republicans who’ve already come forward about succeeding Hanig, saying he wanted to check with them first before releasing their names. However, he described all four as active party members who are well-known in Currituck.

Bass also said three of the four are self-employed and one currently serves in a government capacity, but none are former county commissioners. Each apparently really wants the commissioner job, he said.

“I’ve already got resumes/professional summaries/biographies” from the candidates, he said.

Each of the four, plus others who come forward, will get a chance to make their case for replacing Hanig on the Currituck Board of Commissioners during a meeting of the county GOP Executive Committee has scheduled for later this month.

According to Bass, the meeting has been tentatively scheduled for Nov. 27 and will be held at the Currituck Library in Barco. He said his plan is for the executive committee to settle on a nominee that night that members can recommend to commissioners.

“We want it out to the board of commissioners the next day,” Bass said.

The only formal requirements for the person selected to succeed Hanig are that they have to be at least 18 and registered to vote; they have to be a Currituck resident registered as a Republican; and they have to live in District 2, which is the district Hanig represents.

However, Currituck GOP Executive Committee members “absolutely” will be looking for other qualities in the person they nominate to succeed Hanig, Bass said.

“We want someone that’s measured,” he said. “We want someone that does not come with an agenda, that is going to have the temperament to work with the upcoming board.

“Our main concern is that they will work well with the current board, that they have the conservative philosophy that we’re looking for, that they come from a background of understanding of some of the political processes that are required,” he continued.

The executive committee also is looking for someone who will be as dedicated to serving Currituck as Hanig, Bass said.

Currituck Attorney Ike McRee said in an email Wednesday that once the Board of Commissioners receives Hanig’s resignation, it will have 60 days to appoint someone to complete the remainder of Hanig’s term.

McRee noted that although North Carolina law requires Currituck commissioners to consult with the Currituck Republican Executive Committee prior to filling any vacancy on the commission board, commissioners aren’t required to appoint anyone the local GOP recommends.

If the Board of Commissioners fails to fill the vacancy within 60 days, the decision then would fall to Currituck Superior Court Clerk Ray Matusko, who would have 10 days to fill the vacancy, McRee said.

Bass said because county commissioners currently serve on the Currituck GOP Executive Committee, they may have to recuse themselves from participating in the interviews of candidates for the vacancy. That’s because they will be the final decision-makers on the appointment. He believes those commissioners on the executive panel will be able, however, to discuss the candidates and lobby for a particular choice should they choose to do so.

Bass also said Kevin McCord and Owen Etheridge, both of whom won election to the Currituck Board of Commissioners last week and will be sworn in to office next month, should be afforded an opportunity to weigh in on who should fill the board vacancy.

Hanig said since it’s his seat that will be filled, he doesn’t believe it proper for him to take part in the selection process. He said he plans to resign on Dec. 4, the day after commissioners’ Dec. 3 meeting where the executive committee’s nominee will likely be discussed.

Bass said he plans to check with other committee members about whether the interviews of candidates for Hanig’s seat should be open to the press and public.

“I think if the press wants to be there as an observer, that shouldn’t be a problem at all,” he said.

He said the meeting will not be a forum, however, for the public to weigh in on who should fill the vacancy.

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