Republicans take control
By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 5, 2012 1:46 PM
History was made twice Tuesday morning in Wayne County Superior Courtroom No. 1. Not only was the first Republican majority since Reconstruction sworn into office on the county commission, two of its number were elected as chairman and vice chairman.
To mark the occasion, the oaths of office for the five Republicans were administered by N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby before a crowd of family, friends, local and elected officials, county employees and others who nearly filled the large courtroom.
District 4 Commissioner Steve Keen, who was unopposed in his re-election bid, was elected as chairman. District 1 Commissioner Ray Mayo, who was appointed to the board last year to fill the unexpired term of Andy Anderson, was elected vice chairman. Mayo was unopposed in his bid to win the office.
"I really appreciate the honor and the privilege of serving as chairman to these fine commissioners," Keen said.
Also sworn in were Wayne Aycock, at-large, Bill Pate, District 5, and Joe Daughtery, District 6.
Democrats John Bell, District 3, who attended Tuesday's ceremony, and J.D. Evans, District 2, were sworn in Monday by Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Arnold O. Jones II. Evans, who is undergoing rehabilitation at the Brian Center following a recent surgery, did not attend the meeting.
Jones, who presided over the courtroom and introduced Newby, said one of the "pure pleasures" of his job is being involved in a swearing-in ceremony.
"I know that this is an important day, not only for these gentlemen, their wives and their families, but also for our county," he said. "It is important to all of us as we move forward."
Building on the historical aspect of the morning, Newby spoke about the state's beginning in 1776 and the principles upon which the state and nation were founded.
"Why are we as North Carolinians, we as Americans, why are we different than 99 percent of the rest of the world? The reason is this. Throughout the history of the world 99 percent of the people in the world have thought that government has power and they tell the people what their rights are, and people say, 'Thank you government.'
"That is not so in America because in America we hold these truths to be self-evident that all are created equal and endowed not by a constitution, or a bill of rights or a government, but endowed by our creator."
It is a fundamental difference and the world looks to the U.S. with admiration, he said.
Americans believe their rights and freedoms are superior and that government has a limited role, whether it be federal, state, or local, the justice said.
"As I administer the oath today to these county commissioners, I think it is a good reminder to all of us to keep in mind the fundamental principles of why we are distinct as a people, distinct as a nation, and how important it is for us as elected officials to bear in mind these fundamental principles, and (go back) to these fundamental principles frequently to ensure that we are not exercising power beyond that granted to us."