GOP activist sacked from planning board
Reversing a 2010 decision, County Commissioners have sacked a member of the Durham Planning Commission and replaced him with the woman who previously occupied his seat.
Monday’s vote denied a second term on the advisory board to Teiji Kimball, a Bahama-area resident and Republican Party activist. He makes way for Linda Huff, a Rougemont-area resident and Democratic Party activist.
Kimball replaced Huff in 2010 when the commissioners refused her a second term amid the continuing 751 South controversy.
This time around, Commissioners Fred Foster, Wendy Jacobs and Ellen Reckhow made Huff the pick for a seat on the planning board representing Mangum Township, the northernmost section of Durham County.
An explanation for the decision wasn’t immediately forthcoming, as Foster and Jacobs, newcomers to the debate on who should represent Mangum Township, couldn’t be reached for comment.
It is possible that partisan factors influenced the decision. Foster is president of the Durham branch of the NAACP. The statewide NAACP has spearheaded protests against the GOP-dominated N.C. General Assembly.
Durham County Republican activists had counted Kimball’s presence on the planning board as one of their successes in building the party’s “bench strength” for future local elections.
The five County Commissioners are all Democrats. That was also true in 2010, but the 751 South dispute appeared then to override partisan considerations. The planning board opposed the controversial real-estate project.
Durham GOP Chairman Ted Hicks lamented the move to replace Kimball. “If it is a political decision, that’s sad,” he said, wondering if the commissioners will appoint Republicans to advisory board seats in the future.
“The way the country was founded, it’s founded on a balance of ideas,” Hicks added. “When you have one-party rule, that’s really where tyranny comes in and things of that nature.”
The Mangum Township seat was one of two the commissioners filled Monday. For the other, they appointed incumbent Lebanon Township delegate Charlie Gibbs to a second term.
Howerton and Reckhow joined fellow Commissioner Michael Page in supporting Gibbs’ reappointment.
Gibbs is a Democrat. Lebanon Township like Mangum also covers part of northern Durham County.
There was a three-way split among the commissioners on who should get the seats.
Page and Commissioner Brenda Howerton would have reappointed both Gibbs and Kimball. A second term is usually routine for advisory-board members and Howerton in 2010 had pushed for Kimball’s appointment as a move to diversify the planning board.
Foster and Jacobs would have turned out both incumbents.
For the Lebanon seat they favored applicant Terry Snow, a transportation engineer who submitted a 28-page resume that listed work on road, transit and pedestrian projects in communities spanning the U.S. from Myrtle Beach to Honolulu.
Reckhow’s preference was to replace Kimball, with Huff, and retain Gibbs.
Huff, an artist, was one of the organizers of a move in 2011 to have the Rougemont community incorporated as a town.
She won provisional election that year to the would-be town’s governing board, but didn’t take office because residents by a 10-vote margin turned down the incorporation referendum.