Newly elected 4th District Commissioner Clifton DeLoach attended his first commission meeting Tuesday since being sworn in — and wasted no time in introducing a drastic idea for future elections.
DeLoach said that he feels the county’s five districts should stagger the terms of their elected officials. If this is done, he said, there would not be a drastic turnover in leadership like the county has endured in recent elections. In 2008, four of the board’s five commissioners were new; in 2012, there was a complete turnover with five new commissioners elected.
DeLoach said that to solve this problem, two of the districts can have commissioners serve terms of two years in the next election, while the other three would serve regular four-year terms. He said that after that initial election, the terms would be four years for all of the commissioners. DeLoach told the Coastal Courier that determining which districts would have the two-year terms initially could be solved by someone volunteering to do so or by commissioners doing something as simple as drawing names out of a hat.
By staggering the elections, DeLoach said, the board always will have at least two experienced commissioners. He said that when there is drastic turnover, it takes the newly elected officials time to learn the job. DeLoach said he also will approach the board of education about the idea to help prevent drastic turnover there, too. In the 2012 election, four of the five board members were newly elected members.
DeLoach said that he believes that county residents should let their elected officials know if they support this idea.
Also Tuesday, commissions approved a new policies-and-procedures packet for the fire department. Though it was approved, the matter had to be decided by Chairman Robert Long after a split vote. DeLoach and Willie Thompson voted in favor, and Gerald Blocker and Dwight Gordon voted against it.
Prior to the vote, DeLoach asked if department members were aware of the changes. Chief Richard Truman said a copy had been provided to them and is located at the fire department for anyone to look at it. Truman said that changes were needed to give department leaders the ability to enforce rules and regulations. He said that it took department leadership more than one year to write the packet.
Long also said Tuesday he will be stricter in enforcing rules of decorum during meetings. He said that he encourages anyone who wants to go before the commissioners with a request or presentation to do so. However, they will be required to get with the county clerk prior to the meeting and be placed on the agenda. Long said that in the past, most people who went before them had complied with this requirement. He said that he had been allowing people from the audience to make comments from the floor without being on the agenda, and this wasn’t fair to those who followed procedure.
Long said enforcing this rule will move meetings along in a more orderly manner.
Commissioners also unanimously approved giving county employees an extra half-day off Dec. 23. Initially, employees were off Dec. 24-25. All offices will close at lunch Dec. 23.
More from this meeting will be reported online and in a future edition of the Courier.