In a 3-2 vote last week, the Board of Supervisors elected Clover Hill Supervisor Art Warren chairman of the panel.
The vote came as a surprise to many, as it was expected that Dale Supervisor Jim Holland, who served as vice chairman in 2010, would be elected to the position. When County Administrator Jay Stegmaier opened the Jan. 12 session, Holland sat in the seat that customarily belongs to the panel’s chairman.
When the nominations opened, Bermuda Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle nominated Warren. Matoaca Supervisor Marleen Durfee nominated Holland.
Jaeckle said 2011 would be an important, almost overwhelming year, as the board is facing redistricting, an election, the continued fragile economy and work on the county’s new comprehensive plan. The board chairman will be the voice of the county as it works through the comprehensive plan draft, she said, “and I think this will require an in-depth knowledge of the comprehensive plan that can only be gained with experience.”
While there may be an expectation of equal rotation of leadership, “I’ve never been a believer in that,” she said. Residents expect the board to make decisions based on what is best for the county, not because of the way it’s always been done, she said.
Durfee said she hadn’t nominated Holland because it’s traditional for the vice chairman to become chairman. But, at this juncture, she said, “I believe … it is the right thing to do to stand behind the person who is our current vice chair and to move him to the chairman position.”
Warren, Jaeckle and Midlothian Supervisor Dan Gecker, who served as chairman in 2010, voted for Warren, while Holland and Durfee voted for Holland.
“I appreciate this opportunity to serve in our year of decision making,” Warren said after his election.
When nominations were opened for the vice chairman position, Gecker nominated Jaeckle. Holland nominated Durfee. Jaeckle won in a 3-2 vote, receiving votes from Gecker, Warren and herself. Durfee and Holland were in dissent; when voting, Holland said, “No, categorically.”
Holland said he was “profoundly disappointed … at this result, because of the historic nature of this.” Holland, the third black person to serve on the panel, would have been the Board of Supervisors’ first black chairman.
He has great admiration Warren, he said, and he will continue to serve the Dale district as he always has.
“I will be upfront and honest with you, and that’s the one thing that I hold as a hallmark that is certainly missing in our democracy today, is people who tell the truth at every level,” he said.
“And I can respect no man who does not tell the truth or who misleads or deceives the public.”
Durfee said she was also “very disappointed.”
“I think that today was an opportunity to reflect the change that the citizens wanted,” she said.
Holland was given word by “folks” that he would be considered for the chairmanship, she said.
“And since I wholeheartedly believe in open and transparent government, I think the public needs to know, as of two hours ago, I received a phone call from one of my board members who then proceeds to talk to me about a switch in terms of our support of folks that we would consider for chair and vice chair,” she said. “And I think not only is that disrespectful, it’s also shameful.”