WADESBORO, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Many Anson County residents don’t know who their sheriff is after this past election and Tuesday’s board of commissioners meeting.
Commissioners went into closed session Tuesday night to talk to their county attorney. They came out and motioned for Scott Howell to be the county sheriff. After some clarification, the motion was brought up again.
“Mr. Chairman, I’ll repeat my motion. I motion to appoint Mr. Scott Howell as the Anson County Sheriff and extend him through the next four years,” one board member said.
The motion passed 4-3. Soon after, the board adjourned at 7:54 p.m.
Community members and board members learned an emergency meeting was called.
Reportedly, Sgt. Gerald Cannon assumed the role or was sworn it, but the full commission and its attorney, Scott Forbes, could not attend.
Commissioner Jeff Bricken, appointed as the new chairman for the Board of Commissioners during the meeting, posted on Facebook about an unauthorized gathering Sunday.
IN REFERENCE TO TODAY’S UNAUTHORIZED MEETING:
“To anyone who cares: I was on Rt. 74 near Whiteville NC this evening with my wife. At 5:14pm I received a phone call notice from the County Commission Clerk, in reference to an upcoming Emergency Commisioner Meeting. I questioned under what authority? At 5:15 pm I immediately contacted Commission Attorney Forbes for details. Attorney Forbes stated; he was not aware of the meeting and had not been contacted. At 5:24pm, I received a second call from the Commission Clerk. She placed me on a brief standby and after 4 minutes of static, I just hung up. I did not hear from or participate in any conversation with any Commissioners during this time. I plan to exercise my legal statutory authority as a County Commissioner and place my vote to fill the Sheriff vacancy at tomorrow’s regularly scheduled 6:00 meeting. At that time I will definitely cast my vote to fill the Anson County Sheriff vacancy with the most qualified candidate.”
There was no notice on Anson County’s website about any emergency meetings. Also, there was some confusion about the forum notification and if it violated N.C. Open Meeting laws. Special meetings require 48 hours. Also, there was no notice on the website about the Dec. 1 special meeting or the Dec. 4 emergency meeting.
Before the vote, a trio of people talked about the board’s recent decisions. Resident Bobby Johnson spoke, unhappy with the group’s actions over the last two weeks.
“I think NC Council of County commissioners needs to be notified what’s happened,” Johnson said. “There’s been a great breaking of the statues. These are N.C. laws, and you ignored them. We have a problem with other issues that the board has done in the past.”
Johnson went over his three minutes. He acknowledged he had friends on the board. He was determined to keep talking, but two commissioners and a law enforcement officer drew close to him and persuaded him to leave.
Anson County Democratic Party Chairman Dannie Montgomery spoke about the process to “nominate and select” the new sheriff. According to the Rockingham County Journal, the party selected Cannon to succeed Sheriff Landric Reid, who died in late September. Reid stayed on the ballot and won an unopposed election. Anson Commissioners appointed Howell to fill the Democrat’s seat on Oct. 4. Howell occupied that post until the election.
“(Through) all the processes we’ve gone through, we’ve followed the state statutes,” Montgomery said. “In the beginning, there were some issues that came about, and the (N.C.) Democrats said go back and do it again. And that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t argue, and we didn’t fight because we love this community.”
“We nominated a sheriff, Gerald Cannon,” she added. “I know that whenever Sheriff Cannon takes his seat, he’ll serve all of the people in Anson County with distinction and honor. Democracy is something we can’t afford to lose.”
“Last night, we were in this room,” Montgomery said. “And we presented our nominee to the board of commissioners. We were excited and satisfied and pleased. Even though we had to go through a little more after Cannon took his oath, we’re here tonight, standing strong and firm. Democracy won. It will prevail. …When Cannon takes his seat, I promise we’ll have the best sheriff in North Carolina.”