Supervisors approve staggered terms

Published 10:16 am Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved an amendment to the Southampton County Code to establish biennial elections and staggered terms for the board of supervisors, beginning with the November 2019 general election. The electoral board of the county will assign the individual two-year terms to three supervisors and four-year terms to four supervisors by election district in a drawing to be conducted no later than March 31, 2019.

“While it doesn’t always seem so likely that it could be a total turnover, I think that if we put in place staggered elections that will eliminate that possibility. It would be good to have some experience on the board for when a new person comes along,” said Boykins District Supervisor Carl Faison.

“It would be in the county’s best interest to have some experience [remaining],” Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips added.

Jerusalem District Supervisor Dr. Alan Edwards was the lone board member against staggering the terms.

“I think this is much ado about nothing,” he said. “I don’t really understand what the problem as. We had four new members come on the board a couple years ago and we didn’t suffer. I just wonder and I’m a little bothered by what’s behind this because the county’s operated like this for a long time without any problems. To tell you the truth, if all of us dropped dead tonight, [county administrator] Mike Johnson could still handle it.

“I really don’t understand why we’re doing this, and I think it’s unfair to whoever runs for election. I don’t think it’s fair to the voters. I’ve said [that] if you want to do this, I’d be very happy to vote for it if we had four volunteers. But I haven’t heard any volunteers who want to do this.”

To which Franklin-Hunterdale District Supervisor Barry Porter responded, “I think seven new members at a time would paralyze the board. You would probably have a year where you wouldn’t get anything done. I don’t think it’s Mr. Johnson’s job to run the county. It’s Mr. Johnson’s job to run the county with the oversight of the board based on the policies and procedures the board approves. You can do that, but then the county doesn’t move, no matter how good the county administrator is … As for volunteers, the law doesn’t allow us to volunteers, so that’s a moot point.”

In the case that the number of districts is increased before 2019, the electoral board would assign two-year or four-year terms for each new district so as to maintain an equal practicable number of members to be elected biennially.