GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – The Guilford County Republican Party has a day and a time for when it will vote on the person it wants to fill the District 3 seat on the Guilford County Board of Education in time for September’s meeting and confirmed the position is open to any resident of District 3 who wants to be considered.
That process may or may not include the Republican currently in the seat, Bill Goebel, whom the GC GOP doesn’t think should have the job because he wasn’t chosen by the party committee to fill the remainder of the term vacated when Pat Tillman was elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
An email distributed by the party on Friday confirmed what Chair Chris Meadows had told WGHP – that the party would have a new vote about filling the seat and is inviting any district resident who wants to apply to send an email – and it set Aug. 30 as the day and time for that vote. Meadows said the meeting would be limited to party members only.
This follows the North Carolina General Assembly’s approval last week of Senate Bill 9, which includes language requiring the seat to be vacated by Goebel immediately after a new nominee is chosen by the party’s executive committee, which is what GOP officials have argued all along.
The party, in its email, suggests that once the committee makes its recommendation to “the Superintendent of Guilford County Schools in accordance with the law, that individual shall take the oath of office at the next regular meeting of the Board. The Board has no vote or voice in the matter.”
A squabble that began in December, when the board turned down the party’s original nominee, former teacher Michael Logan, ended April 4 with Goebel, who also volunteered, being seated. This process included another bill, House Bill 88, in which the school district’s lawyer found a loophole that allowed Goebel to get the position.
A spokesperson for the school district referred questions about where the board stands on this issue to Jill Wilson, the board’s attorney, who didn’t respond immediately to an email seeking comment. Neither did Board Chair Deena Hayes.
Goebel, who last week launched his candidacy for the full-term seat in the 2024 election cycle, has not said if he will participate in next week’s selection, although he mentioned that the party had censured him following his appointment.
Goebel was in a meeting on Monday morning and unavailable to answer questions. He had said last week that “our position is there is no vacancy to fill.”
Board’s actions were ‘repugnant’
In its email, the GC GOP said that its leaders think the party all along has been compliant with the law but chose to work through the legislative process – initiated by Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), whose district includes some of the same geography as District 3, over objections from Democrats in the Guilford County delegation – rather than “cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars” with a possible lawsuit against a public board.
“As the Chairman of the Guilford County Republican Party, I find the actions of the Board Democrats and the illegally appointed representative repugnant,” Meadows said in a statement. “Not only did the Board Chair and other Board members slander Mr. Michael Logan, a 25-year, beloved GCS teacher, they disrespected the two Republican Board members Ms. Crissy Pratt and Ms. Linda Welborn, undermined the NC General Assembly, and disenfranchised the citizens in District 3 for months.
“The Guilford County Republican Party, as a dignified assembly, will not tolerate pernicious schemes and illegal backroom deals.”
How did this evolve?
Logan served some 26 years as an automotive instructor at Southern Guilford High School and retired to fulfill the requirement that a teacher can’t be seated on the board of education.
But since December the board had rejected Logan in four party-line votes because the six Democrats objected to some of Logan’s public statements. In a letter to the News & Record earlier this year, Hayes had asked that the GOP “put forward” candidates who had “not engaged in racially prejudiced writing, who seek to embody the values a board of education member should hold and who have expressed an interest in representing District 3.”
Welborn, Pratt and Logan have sued – the party is soliciting donations to cover their legal expenses – because they feel that Hayes, the Democrats on the board and Goebel violated the state’s open meetings law through a series of communications that led to his seating, even though Goebel is an avowed Republican and fiscal conservative.
Their suit names as individuals Goebel and those six Democrats – Khem Irby, Bettye Jenkins, Deborah Napper, Allen Sherouse, T. Dianne Bellamy Small and Hayes – and the Guilford County School Board at large.
Welborn has not responded to emails asking about the status of that suit – a Guilford County Superior Court judge is considering the school board’s motion to dismiss – and Meadows has told WGHP that he thought it was moving forward.
“We are assisting in the fundraising for the plaintiffs but are not a party to the lawsuit,” Meadows said last week. “This lawsuit is about the violations of the NC Open Meetings law. It will move forward, as far as I’m aware. I have not heard that they are dropping it.”
Meadows also indicated he didn’t expect the school board to be suing the GC GOP about this issue. “Any legal action would be directed at the General Assembly,” he said. “The Guilford GOP did not pass this law.”
“With the passage of SB 9, the GCRP Executive Committee will ensure that the lawful Republican nominee will be seated at the next Board meeting,” Meadows said in the release.