Local Politics

Bryan, Reckhow to Lead Wake, Durham Commissioners

Posted December 3, 2007 2:17 p.m. EST
Updated December 3, 2007 9:58 p.m. EST

— Joe Bryan was elected Monday as chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, while Ellen Reckhow was re-elected as chairwoman of the Durham County Board of Commissioners.

Bryan, a Republican from Knightdale, replaces fellow Republican Tony Gurley, who had held the top spot on the board for the past two years. Bryan also served as chairman in 2005.

Democrat Betty Lou Ward was elected vice chairwoman of the Wake County board, replacing Republican Paul Coble. Michael Page was elected vice chairman in Durham, succeeding Becky Heron.

The change in Wake County leadership could improve the relationship between the commissioners and the Wake County school board. It has grown increasingly tense in recent months.

The two boards have been at odds over the annual school budget and land purchases for schools.

Bryan broke with the Republican majority on the Board of Commissioners in June to approve a $300 million budget for the schools. The compromise budget was $6 million more than the one recommended by County Manager David Cooke, but $5 million less than what the school district requested.

"School board members can expect an open and participatory partner, but they can also expect that there will be a grand public policy debate that creates better solutions for the community," Bryan said.

School board Chairwoman Rosa Gill said she hopes to work "effectively and proficiently" with Bryan and the rest of the commissioners.

"Can we work together? Yes. Will we have our differences? Yes," Gill said, noting the duties of the two boards are sometimes at odds.

Bryan said he also plans to address the recent Wake County property revaluations during his term as chairman, including possibly reassessing properties every four years instead of every eight years.