Portman offered as Wake nominee

Staff WritersMay 27, 2011 

— Wake County Democratic leaders nominated Cary Councilman Erv Portman on Thursday to replace Stan Norwalk on the county Board of Commissioners.

Norwalk stepped down from the board in early May, citing health and family reasons for his move from Cary back to Kansas. Democrats haven't had much to cheer about during recent local elections and the ongoing legislative session, but they welcomed Portman enthusiastically as he offered up strong support for education and the environment.

"I recognize that we have a responsibility that is sometimes more important than the specifics of a budget," Portman said, noting cuts to education proposed as part of the state budget under Republican leadership. "Each generation has the responsibility to educate the next."

Portman lives on Cary's southeastern edge in the county's District 4, which includes a sliver of Cary, a quarter of the inner-Beltline area, and a large unincorporated swath. Democrats remain in a minority on the seven-member county board, where four Republicans hold sway. Portman joins Democratic members Betty Lou Ward and James West, both among the more than 150 loyalists Thursday at the N.C. Association of Educators headquarters.

The Cary Town Council appointed Portman to his at-large council position in 2007 to replace Michael Joyce, who had resigned. Portman won election to the same seat eight months later. His term ends in December.

"Erv knows how to bring us together to accomplish the things we all care about," Cary Democrat Matty Lazo-Chadderton said as she nominated Portman.

Portman, whose nomination must be approved by the Board of Commissioners, wants to stay on the Cary council until budget season ends late in June.

"I would like to finish my job in Cary," he said.

Paul Coble, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, said it would be difficult for a new member to join the board during budget season.

Portman likely would leave the Town Council before joining the county board because the state constitution bars people from holding two elected offices at once.

North Carolina law states that Portman's appointment to the county board would last until December 2012, but doesn't put a deadline on the start of his appointment, county attorney Scott Warren said.

And because Norwalk resigned more than a year before the next general election, state law allows the commissioners to reject the Democratic party's nominee.

Under a quirk of the law, the county would hold a primary election among Democratic voters to select Norwalk's successor, Warren said.

The county party also welcomed a new state executive director, Jay Parmley, who most recently held a similar post in South Carolina.

thomas.goldsmith@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8929

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