Stanly commissioners sworn in, appointed to committees

ALBEMARLE — It was a mix of change and familiarity at Monday night’s Stanly County Board of Commissioners meeting, as three newly-elected members were sworn in and two returning members were appointed to leadership positions. 

Following the swearing-in ceremony, commissioners Patty Crump, Brandon King, and Trent Hatley sat through their first meeting on the board while returning commissioners Scott Efird and Mike Barbee were unanimously voted to the board’s chairman and vice chairman positions, respectively. 

In the Republican Party primary election held on May 17, Crump won her race against previous board member Lane Furr in the county’s At-Large seat; King overtook previous board chairman Tommy Jordan for the District 3 seat, while Hatley ran unopposed to the District 4 seat that had been held by prior vice chairman Zach Almond. 

For the District 1 race, Barbee notched his second consecutive term, edging past challengers Levi Greene and Mike Haigler. Meanwhile, Bill Lawhon (District 2) secured his third term with enough votes to outlast Thomas Townsend and Jon Ledbetter. 

With a 5-2 vote on Monday night, the commissioners voted to approve an appointment package that had previously been given by the county’s Planning Board. 

In the package, Lawhon and Barbee received seats on the Economic Development Commission, while Crump and Peter Ascuitto were added to the Health and Human Services Board. Hatley was appointed as the primary member of the Airport Authority Board, with Lawhon as an alternate. 

King received a seat on the Library Board of Trustees and a chairman position with the Fire District Commission, while Barbee was named to the Senior Services Advisory Board. For the Rocky River Rural Planning Organization, Ascuitto was appointed as the primary member, and King got the alternate seat. 

Barbee (primary) and Hatley (alternate) were voted in as Stanly Water and Sewer Authority members, whereas Crump (primary) and Efird (alternate) were added to the Centralina Council of Government’s Region F Aging Committee. 

Lastly, Efird was named to the Partners Mental Health Board, and Hatley was named to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.  

Prior to the 5-2 vote, Crump noted that she agreed with the planning board’s recommendations with one exception, however, as she requested that the vote for the Health and Human Services Board be separated from the others.  

Crump asked her fellow commissioners if they would consider approving Hatley to that board instead of Ascuitto, citing the latter’s voting record pertaining to COVID-19 matters throughout the past few years. 

“I know that Mr. Ascuitto has had very strong beliefs and has supported the lockdowns and the mandated masking and the quarantines,” Crump said. “He has even been an ambassador with Atrium for the vaccination rollout. I do not believe that is in alignment with the people of Stanly County, and that was evidenced by over 18,000 votes the other conservative commissioners received.”  

Attending the meeting remotely via speakerphone, Ascuitto responded to Crump’s statements: “I was at that meeting a few weeks ago talking about how we need to do research on people and stuff like that. Evidently, you never checked on what I’ve done for the department of health and the citizens of Stanly County, including not showing up tonight because I’m under the weather. The one thing you don’t want to do is be around people when you’re ill. If my sin is being the vaccine ambassador for Atrium Health, then so be it.” 

With Crump and King being the only nay votes on the appointment plank, the Planning Board’s initial recommendations were approved by the commissioners. 

The Stanly County Board of Commissioners will next meet on January 17.