Raleigh, N.C. — Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, one of the most powerful politicians in North Carolina, said Wednesday that he is stepping down from his legislative seat to accept an appointment to the state parole commission.
Gov. Beverly Perdue has named Rand chairman of the three-member Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, which decides whether to release prison inmates who meet certain requirements and sets supervision conditions for them. He will assume the post early next year, replacing Charles Mann of Sanford.
Mann, who has served on the commission since 1993 and spent the last four years as chairman, will assume one of two part-time positions on the Parole Commission.
Rand earns about $17,000 a year as a state lawmaker, while the parole commission chairman, a full-time job in state government, makes more than $100,000.
Perdue said his legal and political background make him the right person to give people a fair shot at a second chance while understanding that public safety is the parole commission's top priority.
"(He'll make) sure that, as prisoners are released, we're having the correct kind of community supervision and monitoring and oversight and that the wrong dudes aren't released," she said.
A Cumberland County Democrat, Rand served in the state Senate from 1981 to 1988, when he ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1995 and has spent the last eight years as the leader of the Democratic caucus in the chamber. He chairs the Senate's Rules Committee and is vice-chairman of the Commerce Committee.
The 70-year-old attorney and consultant was a key player in the effort to approve a state lottery in 2005, and he proposed a resolution two years ago for the General Assembly to express "profound regret" for decades of slavery and segregation in North Carolina.
Rand said he has tired of the bitter nature of politics, and he feels it's time to move on.
"I guess I just got old and it's time to quit," he said. "I look forward to the new opportunity. I appreciate the governor giving me the opportunity for a new challenge."
Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, one of the few people in North Carolina who wields more political clout than Rand, wished his colleague well in his new position.
"North Carolina couldn't have had a better friend than Tony Rand," Basnight said in a statement. "I can think of no one better to take on the challenging and critically important task of implementing the probation and parole reforms he helped write."
Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, a frequent critic of Rand's, also wished him well.
"While he and I have often disagreed on matters of policy, he was always someone who kept his word," Berger said in a statement.
Fayetteville attorney David Boliek Jr. immediately announced plans to seek Rand's Senate seat.
“We need a new generation of leadership who has the energy and vision to build a better North Carolina," Boliek said in a statement. "This is going to be a grassroots, door-to-door campaign. It’s the right time for my family, and I look forward to pouring a great deal of energy into it – reaching out and talking with voters about their visions for the future of our state.”
Democratic Party officials will recommend someone for Rand's seat to Perdue, who will make the final decision. The Democratic caucus in the Senate will vote on someone to replace him as majority leader.