Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes said Tuesday she will continue to serve on the board, a day after she abruptly resigned.
Holmes said in an email that a job opportunity had presented itself and that she felt she could step aside because the board had appointed an affordable housing committee, which she had pushed for.
But she said that she reconsidered because she heard from many constituents who want her to lead the committee “and continue pounding the pavement.”
“This immense response from the community has encouraged me to reconsider this decision,” Holmes said. “Based on this calling, I am abandoning my original decision to resign and will stay to complete my term as a commissioner serving the community that I love. My apologies to those who were confused or upset by this decision.”
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Sig Hutchinson, who was elected chairman Monday, said he was “beyond thrilled” to learn that Holmes will remain on the board.
Since Holmes didn’t submit a formal resignation, the board won’t have to take any action, Hutchinson said.
Commissioners said they were shocked by Holmes’ resignation. On Tuesday, Commissioner John Burns said he wanted to continue working with her.
“Anyone who knows her knows she’s incredibly talented,” Burns said.
Brian Fitzsimmons, chairman of the Wake County Democratic Party, had hoped Holmes would reconsider and remain on the board.
In a statement posted Tuesday on Facebook, Fitzsimmons said Holmes’ departure would mean the party would have to replace the board’s only woman, and one of two African-American members.
“These two situations are, by any measure, unacceptable,” Fitzsimmons said in the statement. “We just concluded an election where far too many people felt like their voices weren’t heard. We have to do better, and we will do better. Now is the time for progress, not regress.”
Holmes, 32, became the board’s youngest member in 2014, when she was elected to represent western Wake in District 3. She led the board’s “Ban the Box” push in April to delete questions about criminal histories on the county government’s employment application forms. She also led the board’s push to offer paid parental leave to county employees who welcome a newborn, legally adopt or start fostering a child.
Last month, Holmes expressed frustration over other commissioners delaying the creation of the affordable housing committee, which she said she’s been pushing for two years. The board voted Monday to approve the committee.
Also Monday, commissioners chose Matt Calabria over Holmes to serve as vice chair of the board.
Holmes, who attended Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony for Wake County school board members, was surrounded by a ring of well-wishers who thanked her for rescinding her resignation.
Holmes said she was still concerned with how the approval of the affordable housing committee was delayed. But she said her resignation was not connected to losing the vice chair vote to Calabria.
“Sig Hutchinson is going to be an amazing chair,” Holmes said. “Matt Calabria is perfectly capable of being vice chair. I’m excited to work alongside of them.”
Holmes said that she didn’t think her resignation would hurt her ability to work with her colleagues.
“You can’t choose your family,” Holmes said. “I truly feel like we’re a family and we serve together. We don’t always agree, but they’re my family. We’ll always stick together.”
Staff writer T. Keung Hui contributed.
Sarah Nagem: 919-829-4635, @sarah_nagem