With the emotional scars of Commissioner Garry Scearce’s death obviously still fresh, the four remaining members of the Surry County Board of Commissioners gathered at the Surry County Republican Headquarters to announce that they want to honor Scearce’s wishes and appoint Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran to fill his seat.
Cochran said she is honored to be approached about the position and will “make it a matter of prayer.”
The move came during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
During the conference, Board Chairman R.F. “Buck” Golding was unable to hold back tears when talking about the vacant seat, and was adamant that the board is following state code to the letter.
“We received a recommendation from Garry about a suitable replacement, that was made individually by Garry to the members of the board,” he said, noting that Cochran was Scearce’s choice for the position.
While Cochran declined to officially accept the pending appointment, she said she was honored to be “under consideration” for the seat.
“I am willing to consider this appointment, and will make it a matter of prayer, as I do when making decisions,” she said tearfully.
Cochran told the 20 or so people at the event that the board is “hurting,” and has lost a brother.
“When you work closely with someone, you often see them more than your own family,” she said.
County Attorney Ed Woltz said that the appointment is a temporary position that will end on Dec. 4.
“If Garry Scearce had survived through the first full half of his (four-year) term, the Board of Commissioners would appoint a replacement for the entire rest of his term,” he said. “But since he didn’t, the board is authorized to nominate a replacement through the first Tuesday of December following the general election.”
In the interim, Woltz said the executive boards of both the Republican and Democrat parties will select candidates to run in the general election.
“The Republican committee isn’t a public body, and there is no formal meeting about the appointment,” he said. “They can meet and nominate.”
Woltz said the remaining members of the board are only able to appoint in the interim, and are not required to consult with the party.
“The (Republican executive) committee can have input, but the board makes the decision,” he said.
According to the county attorney, the board is expected to take official action to fill the seat during its Aug. 20 meeting.
Prior to that time, board members said Thursday that they “would consider comments from the public on an individual basis.”
Carefully selecting her words, Cochran said after Thursday’s meeting that while she is not actively seeking the county seat at this time, if the board of commissioners officially appoints her to the open seat, and if the local Republican party nominates her to run, she would accept the nomination.
Should the board officially appoint her to the board seat, she would relinquish her role as mayor of Mount Airy.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.