Commissioners swear in for new term, elect chair and vice chair
WILTGEN Thomasville Times
Newcomer Todd Yates took his oath separately from incumbent winners Billy Joe Kepley, Sam Watford and Don Truell, who swore in as a group. Register of Deeds David Rickard also took his oath at the meeting.
Commissioners then voted to appoint a chair and vice chair. Kepley and Watford were appointed for chair — Watford won narrowly with a 4-3 majority.
“We thought Max [Walser, former chair,] had run off with the gavel,” Watford joked. “Thank you for your support.”
Commissioners Larry Potts and Cathy Dunn were nominated for vice chair. Potts won, again by a close 4-3 vote.
Watford has been nominated three or four times before for commission chair and served as vice chair during his last term.
“This is the first opportunity that I’ve ever had to serve as chair,” Watford said, adding that while he knew he would receive a nomination, the chances of an actual appointment seemed up in the air. “You never know, you really don’t.”
Watford says he will follow the trend of previous boards, focusing on job creation as the local and national economy struggles to recover.
“The whole time I’ve served on the board, that’s been a No. 1 priority,” said Watford, currently beginning his third term. “And it’s going to continue to be.”
With the addition of Yates, the board now boasts five members who daylight as small business owners, an expertise Watford says will help commissioners in the job hunt.
“It helps with recruitment and knowing what it takes to survive in this county,” he said. “It gives you a little different perspective, it really does.”
Aside from economic development, Watford’s new title presents him with the challenges to become the board’s official spokesperson, stepping out into the limelight and representing the county. Such public appearances might be hard for him, not only because he works full-time during the day but also because it’s a role he’s not accustomed to filling.
“That is a big part of this job, representing the county in the public eye,” Watford said. “Running the meetings is the easy part, I’ve done that before. Representing the county in the public eye, that’s the hard part.”
Yates, who has attended board meetings as an audience member since his election Nov. 2, seemed excited and a bit nervous to take his official seat at the front of the room. But he says he’s eager to get his feet wet.
“It feels good,” Yates said. “We’re working in the right direction. I’m looking forward to working with these guys, and I think we’ve got a lot of good things coming out soon.”
Also at the meeting, commissioners recognized county staff who have served for five years or more. Mary Ann Brown, head of the Recreation Department and also involved in Special Olympics of Davidson County, received an award for her 35 years of service, the longest period of any current employee.
“Thank you all for your service,” Watford told the employees after all had been recognized. “I know it’s been rough on everybody the past year. I know it’s going to get better.”
Watford elected commissioners' chairman
Potts to serve as vice chairman
Watford, Potts, Fred McClure and new commissioner Todd Yates voted for Watford while Kepley, Cathy Dunn and Don Truell voted for Kepley. For vice chairman, Potts, Watford, McClure and Yates voted for Watford, and Dunn, Kepley and Truell voted for Dunn.
Watford spent this past year as vice chairman, second in line to the recently retired Dr. Max Walser. Watford has been nominated for the position in the past, but this year's run as chairman will be his first.
“Thank you for your support,” Watford said after the vote. Pulling from the 1970s' movie, “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” Watford added, “All I'll say is that I'll endeavor to persevere.”
Watford said the board will continue to focus heavily on economic development in the county.
“The whole time I've served on the board it's been our No. 1 priority, and it will continue to be,” he said. “We're dominated by businessmen; we have five independent business people serving on the board. It gives us an edge on recruitment, to try and help business in this county survive and to bring in new business.”
Potts said he is confident in Watford's ability to lead the board.
“His style is like mine, tell me what I need to know and let's move on,” he said. “I don't have any reservations. He has a lot of knowledge in the construction building industry, and I felt he would make the best chair.”
Potts assumes the role of vice chairman for the third time in his career. “Since I've done it before, I told him (Watford) when time comes when he needs some help he knows I've got the ability to speak and represent the county.”
The board also welcomed Yates, who was officially sworn in to his seat Monday morning. Incumbents Kepley, Truell and Watford and Register of Deeds David Rickard took their oaths as well during the meeting.
Yates, a local businessman, has 25 years experience in Davidson County with Yates Grading and Paving and Yates Disposal. A political rookie, Yates said he's been anticipating Monday's arrival since he was victorious last month.
“It feels really good,” said Yates, a Republican. “I was a little nervous. But I think the county is heading in the right direction, and I think we have a lot of good things that will be coming out very soon.”
Also at the called meeting, commissioners convened in a closed session for more than hour while they discussed real estate and personnel matters, but took no action on the items.
first regular meeting of the new board is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 14 on
the fourth floor of the Davidson County Governmental Center at 913