ALBEMARLE — At the Stanly County Commission meeting on June 10, commissioners briefly sparred over whether to approve two former members of the county commission to the Stanly Community College Board of Trustees.
Commissioner Ashley Morgan nominated Joseph Burleson and Gerald Efird to fill the two vacant positions. Immediately following this nomination, Commissioner Bill Lawhon made comments in opposition of closing the nominating process and put forward two of his own nominations, Doug Hughes, an incumbent on the board whose term is expiring, and Dr. Gerald Poplin, who has prior experience in academia.
Lawhon said he thinks boards should be populated by a wider variety of people in the community and that Morgan’s nominees shouldn’t be approved.
“My opinion is, we need to involve as many citizens as possible on county boards, not just a select few to make decisions,” Lawhon said at the meeting, before saying they should avoid nominating people who “are their friends or good ol’ boy buddies.”
Burleson, whose nomination was ultimately approved 4-3, saw Lawhon’s accusations of favoritism as out of line, but in character.
“Unfortunately, the public got to see the childish behavior of Mr. Lawhon and got to see him throw his temper tantrum,” Burleson told SCJ. “That’s something some of us are used to seeing behind closed doors, but last night it spilled out into the public due to being upset at not getting his way.”
Regarding his now-approved tenure on the SCC Board of Trustees, Burleson said he is looking forward to serving his community and sees this as another avenue by which he can do that.
“I think I can be a good advocate for the community college to the board of commissioners and to the General Assembly,” Burleson said. “There are lots of great programs they’re discussing bringing to the college, and I’m just ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
Efird, the other approved SCC trustee, served on the Stanly County Commission for two terms, including one year as chairman, and is also an Army veteran who spent time deployed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Efrid said he is motivated to find ways the community college can prepare citizens for their careers.
“I’d like to see them implement some more programs to help our local economy,” Efird told SCJ. “I think there’s a need for more trade-type training. We’ve got some industry coming in that will need some help getting people trained to fill their positions.”
Morgan, who nominated Burleson and Efrid, told SCJ Lawhon’s comments seemed “uncalled for, but he’s entitled to his opinion.”
“I tried to look at who was best,” Morgan added. “And you have two former county commissioners that I nominated. They’re very familiar with the community college and very familiar with the budget process. So, I was comfortable and thought they were the best choice.”
Members of the SCC Board of Trustees serve a four-year term, which for Burleson and Efird will run from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2023.