Local Politics

Webb resigns as Wake County commissioner

Posted September 9, 2010 9:40 a.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2010 6:49 p.m. EDT

Harold Webb

— Democrat Harold Webb, who had represented east Raleigh on the Wake County Board of Commissioners for seven years, resigned on Wednesday.

Webb submitted a letter to Susan Banks, clerk of the Board of Commissioners, saying that his health had prevented him from serving his constituents full time.

Webb suffered a stroke last September. Since then, he has phoned into board meetings to cast some votes.

"I have enjoyed my years of service to the citizens of Wake County and will continue to advocate for their best interests as a private citizen," Webb wrote.

He was appointed to the Board of Commissioners in 2003 and was elected to four-year terms in 2004 and 2008, representing District 5.

"Although I will certainly miss the day-to-day responsibilities of office, I will cherish and remember with fondness the friends made during my time on the board and the many accomplishments we were able to implement for the better of Wake County," he wrote.

"It's sad he's not going to be able to finish his term," said Tony Gurley, chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

Still, Gurley questioned the timing of the move.

With less than 60 days until the general election, the Democratic Party will be allowed to pick Webb's successor. If he had resigned last week, his seat would have appeared on the ballot in November.

"I think he's allowed himself to be used by the Democratic Party, when I believe it was much better to allow citizens of Wake County to vote on a replacement," said Gurley, a Republican.

Jack Nichols, a former chairman of the Wake County Democratic Party who is running for a seat on the Board of Commissioners, said the party played no role in Webb's decision to step down this week.

"I can tell you there was no pressure from the Democratic Party," Nichols said. "It was his decision."

Local Democrats meet at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday at the North Carolina Association of Educators Building, at 700 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh, to nominate Webb's replacement. Under state law, the party has 30 days pick a successor.

The Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association and the Wake County African-American Caucus will hold a candidate forum at 10 a.m. Saturday in the New Science Building Auditorium at Shaw University.

Sources told WRAL News that Raleigh City Councilman James West is a possible nominee for Webb's seat.

The Board of Commissioners has been extremely partisan in recent months, with Webb's absence producing a 3-3 vote along party lines in some cases.

"I would not like to see that happen at all, and I would like to ensure that does not occur," Commissioner Lindy Brown said.