04/21/04 — Flowers breaks ranks in Best vote

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Flowers breaks ranks in Best vote

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on April 21, 2004 2:13 PM

Wayne County Commissioner Arnold Flowers broke ranks with his party Tuesday and ended what could have been a two-month deadlock on the county board's vacancy.

Flowers, a Republican, voted with the three Democrats to appoint Jack Best to serve the remainder of Ken Gerrard's term. Best will be sworn in next month.

It was a difficult decision, Flowers said after the vote. "I had to do what's in the best interest of Wayne County and not play politics."

The Republican Party and the other GOP commissioners opposed the appointment because Best, a Walnut Creek commissioner, had already announced he would run this fall to replace Gerrard in District 6.

Allowing Best to have the seat early and run as an incumbent "would be giving the candidate an unfair advantage," Commissioner Efton Sager said. "Basically, that district is already stacked for a Democrat anyway."

Sager and fellow Republican Commissioner Andy Anderson urged the board to wait until after the filing period next month and then appoint someone who didn't file, perhaps a former commissioner.

But the three Democrats were not going to be prevented from getting Best if they wanted him, Flowers said.

If the county board had not been able to reach a decision within 60 days of Gerrard's resignation, state law would have given Clerk of Court Marshall Minchew the right to appoint the replacement. He would surely pick his party's nominee, Flowers said.

"If Jack Best is going to be appointed, why not go ahead and appoint him?" Flowers said. This will allow Best, whom he called an astute businessman, to take part in all county budget discussions, not come in halfway through the process, he said

The Republicans were all careful to say that they had no objections to Best personally.

"This has nothing to do with him as a person," Anderson said. "We just have a lot of major issues facing us, and we should let the voters decide who they want."

Sager contended that the county commissioners have traditionally filled vacancies with non-candidates.

That wasn't the case, though, the last time the board had an opening. In 2000, the county board appointed J.D. Evans to replace Jimmie Ford when Ford was appointed to the state Legislature. Evans was running at the time for Ford's seat.

However, at the time of his appointment, Evans had already won the Democratic primary and didn't face a Republican opponent in the fall, so his election was almost assured. Evans is now the board's acting chairman.