Democrats rail at Republicans for stacking UNC governing board

jstancill@newsobserver.com March 20, 2013 

— The legislature elected 16 new people to the UNC Board of Governors Wednesday, tossing out current members and ensuring an overwhelming Republican majority on the university system’s governing board.

During the ballot counting in the House late Wednesday, a tense partisan debate erupted. Democrats complained that none from their party got a fair look in the election and that when they were in the majority, they made sure Republicans were represented on the board.

Rep. Mickey Michaux, a Durham Democrat, said he refused to cast a ballot in the final vote.

“Not one Democrat was elected out of this House, and I think it’s a just a doggone shame and a travesty …,” Michaux said. “You talk about reaching across the aisle. This is in no way, shape or form or fashion, reaching across the aisle. … I just can’t understand for the life of me why we can’t get the same thing that we gave you.”

Of the 16 newly elected members, all are Republican except two, who are unaffiliated.

Rep. Edgar Starnes, a Hickory Republican, responded to the Democrats’ criticism by saying that all of the winners were “eminently qualified” to serve on the board.

“I would just remind you of one thing,” Starnes said. “The Republicans won the election. We are in control. We intend to elect Republicans and appoint Republicans, and we make no apology for it.”

Rep. Annie Mobley, an Ahoskie Democrat, said the former Democratic speaker encouraged all in the party to vote for at least two Republicans.

“It concerns me greatly,” she said. “My heart is heavy. As I think about some of the things that are coming down the pike with regard to our commission boards, what are we coming to? Are we going to try to make everything Republican? Are we going to try to make everything Caucasian? I truly wish sometimes that we didn’t even have a party vote – that you didn’t know what party I am, (that) I didn’t know what party you are.”

Rep. Tim Moore, a Kings Mountain Republican who headed up a nominating committee, said several who were nominated withdrew their names.

As to the Democrats’ complaints, Moore said: “I’ve served in the minority before. I know what that’s like. We had an open, fair process.”

The new members will join the board July 1 and serve four years. The board has 32 voting members, plus former chairs who can serve four-year, nonvoting terms and former North Carolina governors, who can serve indefinite nonvoting terms. A student representative is also a nonvoting member.

Those elected by the House Wednesday are Rodney Hood of Durham, a director at JP Morgan Chase; Henry Williams Hinton of Greenville, president and general manager of Inner Banks Media; W.G. Champion Mitchell of New Bern, a retired attorney and CEO; Laura I. Wiley of High Point, a House member from 2005-2011; R. Doyle Parrish of Raleigh, CEO of Summit Hospitality Group; Roger Aiken of Alexander, who works for Wells Fargo Advisors; Dr. Joan Templeton Perry of Kinston, a pediatrician; and James E. “Jim” Nance of Albemarle, a former dealer and president of Confederate Motors, Inc.

Those elected by the Senate are William M. Kotis III of Summerfield, a commercial real estate investor and restaurateur with Kotis Properties Inc.; Scott Lampe of Davidson, vice president and chief financial officer for Hendrick Motorsports; Steven B. Long of Raleigh, a tax attorney and partner with Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein; Joan G. MacNeill of Webster, a retired entrepreneur and nurse; Therence O. Pickett of Greensboro, vice president, general counsel and secretary at Volvo Group North America and Mack Trucks Inc.; Robert Sterling Rippy of Wilmington, the owner and president of Jungle Rapids; Harry Leo Smith Jr. of Greenville, chief executive officer of Flanders Corp.; and John Craig Souza of Raleigh, president and chief executive officer of the N.C. Health Care Facilities Association. Souza previously served on the UNC board.

Staff writer John Frank contributed.

Stancill: 919-829-4559

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