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Long commissioners reject staggered terms
Long Co commissioners
The Long County Board of Commissioners had a busy night Tuesday, but the members were divided on several items. Shown from left are Willie Thompson, Clifton DeLoach, Chairman Dwight Gordon, Robert Long and Gerald Blocker. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle

The Long County Board of Commissioners shot down a proposal Tuesday by Commissioner Clifton DeLoach to stagger upcoming terms for commissioners.

DeLoach said only two districts would need commissioners to serve an initial two-year term; the other three districts would not be affected. He said that by doing this, after that initial election, each commissioner would be on a schedule to serve a four-year term.  

In the last two elections, there has been a high turnover among commissioners, and this is not good for the county, DeLoach said.

In 2008, four of the five districts elected new commissioners, and then in 2012 the voters replaced all five commissioners. DeLoach said that with the county growing like it is, continuity in leadership is needed.

“Another reason we need to do this is that it usually takes a new commissioner at least a year or a year and a half to get their training and get an understanding of the job,” he said. “By the time that they do, half of their term is already over.”

Commissioner Robert Long seconded DeLoach’s motion and voted with him to enact the measure, but he was the only other person on the board who agreed. Commissioners Willie Thompson and Gerald Blocker voted against the measure, forcing Chairman Dwight Gordon to cast a vote. He voted no.

“I just don’t think we need to do this,” Gordon said. “We’re a small county, and I just don’t think it’s something that we need to do.”

DeLoach also made a motion that the county begin the process of hiring a county administrator to head up daily operations. He said he believes the person could initially be hired as a part-time employee, then advanced into a full-time position.

After a brief discussion, the commission agreed to pursue the idea. This measure passed 3-1 with Blocker and Long voting in favor, and Thompson voting against it.  

After the meeting, Thompson said he did not support the idea because Blocker and Long already have discussed a potential candidate to fill the position. That, Thompson said, is wrong and illegal.

“We’re putting the cart before the horse when we haven’t even agreed to have a county administrator, and you have commissioners already picking somebody to do the job,” Thompson said.

DeLoach also made a motion to review local legislation, to see if the county could continue consolidating the job of the probate judge and the magistrate judge. Currently, Marie Middleton is filling the position, but DeLoach said she will not seeking re-election.  

This measure passed with DeLoach, Blocker and Long voting in favor and Thompson voting no.

The commissioners approved placing Linda Smith on the county’s library board, but it too was approved 3-1, with Thompson opposed. Thompson said he had nothing against Smith serving on the board, but because she was already serving on another board for the county, he believed someone else should be given an opportunity.

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