Under the Dome

Deputy industrial commissioners replaced, reappointed

The chairman of the state Industrial Commission has replaced three deputy commissioners in the agency that hears workers’ compensation cases and personal or property damage claims against state entities. Four deputies at the N.C. Industrial Commission were reappointed. All terms are for six years.

The appointments are the start of a legislative-mandated reshuffling of the 22 deputy commissioners. A law passed last year staggers their terms based on seniority. Another seven deputies’ terms will be up for appointment on Aug. 1, and the rest on Feb. 1, 2016.

Andrew T. Heath, chairman of the commission, makes the decision about who stays and who goes. Newcomers he appointed are:

• Lori Gaines, who is in private practice with the Lea Schultz law firm in Wilmington. She previously handled workers’ compensation issues for the state Department of Public Safety.

• William “Bill” Shipley, who practices with Willson Jones Carter & Baxley in Columbia. S.C. and is moving to North Carolina this week, according to a spokeswoman. He is a former state prosecutor, and clerked for federal judges.

• Michael Silver is an assistant district attorney in Forsyth County, where he gained substantial trial experience.

Not reappointed were Victoria Homick, who has been on the commission since 2008; Keischa Lovelace, with the commission since 2006 and an unsuccessful candidate for appeals court judge last year; and Mary Vilas, who became a deputy in 2010.

Heath reappointed Melanie Wade Goodwin, a former state legislator and wife of Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin; Sumit Gupta, previously the commission’s general counsel; Robert Harris, a deputy since 2005; and Christopher Loutit, previously the commission’s administrator.

There are six full commission members who have traditionally been political appointees, while deputy commissioners have been career employees with expertise in specific areas. Last year, the state association of trial attorneys and the state Democratic Party said putting all 22 deputies up for appointment under a Republican administration would politicize the agency because deputies would worry about job security.

In 2013, the state Senate tried to sweep out all the full commissioners at least partly in response to problems The N&O documented with the Industrial Commission in 2012. It was also part of a broader unsuccessful attempt to replace incumbents on numerous state boards.