Local Politics

Power shifts among Wake County commissioners

Posted December 6, 2010 3:52 p.m. EST
Updated December 6, 2010 11:45 p.m. EST

— There’s a shift in power for the Wake County Board of Commissioners, as newly elected members took the oath of office, moving from a Democratic-controlled board to a 4-3 Republican majority.

The board, now led by Former Raleigh Mayor Paul Coble, who was elected chairman at its meeting Monday, and newly elected commissioner Phil Matthews, named vice chairman – reversed a number of county policies approved by the previous board.

In a vote along party lines, the board voted 4-3 to reverse a change in county policy that allows taxpayer dollars to be used to pay for abortions for county employees. That policy was approved in March, when the Democratic majority voted to reinstate health coverage for elective abortions.

The board also voted 7-1 (with Commissioner Stan Norwalk against the measure) in favor of reversing a measure passed by Democratic commissioners in April to "express their deep concern over any attempt to re-segregate Wake's public schools."

Some worry that Republicans rescinding the resolution will send the message that they are for segregation, but Republicans say it was essentially a meaningless and politicized measure in the first place.

Also brought back in a vote by the board Monday is a requirement that the Wake County Public School System Board of Education give quarterly reports to commissioners on the “purpose and function” of budget projects. Democratic commissioners did away with that rule in January.

The board also approved a plan to improve the Davie Street parking deck across from the Raleigh Convention Center.

Republicans won all four vacant seats in November’s election. The new majority takes over in tough economic times. County Manager David Cooke said departments would be asked to make more reductions.