Onslow County Board of Commissioners will be going through an adjustment process after adding three new members and the county’s approval of a seven-seat board.
A referendum that passed Tuesday night called for the growth of the Onslow County Board of Commissioners from five to seven seats and with staggered terms.
Onslow County public information officer Riley Eversull cited consistency for policy making as a benefit of adding two more seats to the Board of Commissioners over time.
County Manager Jeff Hudson explained the board’s role is not to drive day-to-day operations.
“Day-to-day service to citizens happens through county employees,” County Manager Jeff Hudson said. “The commissioners’ job is to set policy, so having five versus seven commissioners may affect policy decisions, but day-to-day service divisions of department levels would be good whether there was five or seven commissioners.”
County government operates “well” under either system, Hudson said.
The county election to add the additional two seats will be in 2018, Eversull said, adding that the five who were elected from Tuesday’s Election Day will serve a four-year term until 2020.
“Having seven board members and staggered terms will take six years to fully implement this referendum,” Eversull said.
The incumbents and new commissioners elected to the Board of Commissioners said they supported the board’s expansion.
“I supported it because I have first-hand information about how the Commissioners’ schedule and their workload is,” incumbent Jack Bright said, adding that the board’s growth would also allow for more people to be a part of county government.
Royce Bennett, newly elected to the board, said having two more people on the board is expected to be a good move.
“For one thing, it will be easier to have a quorum. We won’t have to worry about people being out sick as much and it will also help us to spread out some of the workload,” he said.
Robin Knapp also said he thought the referendum was a good thing.
“I think will help us with the growth and diversity of the community,” he said, adding that without staggered terms, the board would face a big learning curve.
Mark Price said he appreciated the public was able to consider it.
“I think from folks I talked to, talked about a greater population. I think that must’ve been a thing that swayed folks in that direction,” he said.
At the Board of Commissioners candidate forum in October, Paul Buchanan said he’d voted to put staggered terms on the ballot as a board member.
According to the resolution to expand the Board of Commissioners, the board’s will elect two additional commissioners in the 2018 general election to four-year terms, bringing the board total to seven. The four candidates who receive the highest number of votes in the 2020 general election, when the five current seats are back on the ballot, will each be elected to four-year terms. The candidate to receive the fifth highest number of votes in that election will serve a two-year term. Following the 2020 general election, all commissioners will be elected to serve four-year terms, with either three or four of the board members up for election every two years.
Commissioners are currently elected at-large.
“The subject of districts right now is a decision the voting public will have to make in the future. It’s not something that we are taking up at this time,” Eversull said.