GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Bill Goebel does not intend to step down from the Guilford County school board despite a new law that some argue vacated his seat.
Senate Bill 9, passed in June, meant to unseat Goebel and allow the Guilford County GOP to nominate his replacement. Part of SB 9 outlines the shortening of the District 3 seat’s term and then outlines how to “deal with how a vacancy that would result from the shortening of this term would be filled.”
In a letter submitted to the Guilford County School Board and copied to the chairman of the Guilford County GOP, Goebel’s attorney Charles Winfree said SB 9 does not in itself vacate the seat that Goebel was approved to fill, which means that the Guilford County GOP’s latest nomination of teacher Michael Logan, who was voted down four times by the school board, has no standing. Further, Winfree says “an interpretation of SB 9 that it creates a vacancy would produce an unconstitutional result.”
“Though the identity of the office holder for this one seat for the next fifteen months is significant, of much greater importance is the sanctity of our constitutional form of government, which would be jeopardized if the General Assembly was allowed to declare vacant the seats of disfavored office holders,” the letter states.
Goebel “does not recognize” the “purported” vacancy that the Guilford County GOP is attempting to fill in the Guilford County Board of Education and will continue to serve as the District 3 board member “unless and until there is a final judicial determination that he may not,” according to the letter.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to spend our time on this,” Goebel told FOX8. “School just started, and we should be making sure our students have everything, that the air conditioning is on. We should be focused on the students.”
The school board seat for District 3 has been in flux due to conflict between the school board and the county Republican party.
The seat initially opened after Republic Pat Tillman resigned following his election to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. The Guilford County GOP nominated teacher Michael Logan to replace him, but the school board four times declined to seat him. Democrats took issue with Logan’s social media posts and “divisive” opinions.
Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) and Rep. John Faircloth (R-Guilford) filed House Bill 88 to clean up language in the statute covering this process, aiming to force the board to seat the party’s nominee. However, the board took advantage of a loophole in the new law and seated Goebel, another Republican from the district.
Logan and two Republican school board members have also filed a lawsuit claiming the board violated state open meetings law when it seated Goebel. That trial is currently in the discovery phase.