State Politics

Gov. Cooper picks coastal mayor, once a convicted felon, to lead ABC Commission

Zander Guy
Zander Guy

Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed Surf City Mayor Zander Guy as the new chairman of the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

Guy announced his resignation as mayor to take the job on Friday morning and said he’ll start work Monday, according to the Wilmington Star-News. The position has a salary of $113,456, the Star-News reported.

Guy has served as mayor since 1999 in Surf City, which is the beach town at the center of Topsail Island in Pender County. He’d served as an ABC Commission member during Gov. Bev Perdue’s administration.

Guy is also a real-estate agent and developer who served three months in prison in 1990 on a conviction for fraudulently billing clients of his insurance agency for nearly $16,000. He was serving a three-year sentence when then-Gov. Jim Martin commuted the sentence and later pardoned him.

Guy had served as Jacksonville mayor prior to the conviction, and his father, A.D. Guy, was a former state senator. Guy told The News & Observer in 2009 when he was first appointed to the ABC Commission that “I’m ashamed of that (crime) and I can’t change it.”

Guy will replace former Gov. Pat McCrory’s ABC Commission chairman, former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner, who resigned last month. Cooper, a Democrat, defeated McCrory, a Republican, in the November election.

The N.C. Republican Party issued a statement Friday afternoon criticizing Cooper’s choice. “Really? Gov. Roy Cooper is replacing the Honorable Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner with a convicted felon who will oversee staffers and a large state budget?” vice-chairwoman Michele Nix said in a news release. “Certainly Gov. Cooper understands that his appointments are a reflection of his own values and those of his constituents.”

Cooper also announced several other appointments Friday:

Ethics Commission chair: Cooper has appointed longtime Ethics Commisioner Jane Finch, a Democrat who has served on the commission and its predecessor board since 1993. She’ll replace Republican John Branch, who was appointed by McCrory in December.

But Finch’s appointment could face legal questions amid Cooper’s lawsuit challenging a law from the December special session that combines the Ethics Commission and State Board of Elections.

While Cooper contends that court orders are preventing the law from taking effect – a scenario that would allow the governor to make appointments – Senate leader Phil Berger said Thursday that an N.C. Court of Appeals order means that the state doesn’t currently have an Ethics Commission.

Lottery Commission chair: Cooper picked Courtney Crowder, a lobbyist who previously served as legislative director and senior adviser to Perdue.

Arts Council chair: Cooper named Stephen Hill, who is director and vice president for Hillco, Ltd., and has been serving as a board member for the Arts Council.

“I am confident these leaders will serve our great state with distinction, and I am grateful for their service,” Cooper said in a news release.