By Wesley Edwards
Most board chair elections are relatively routine. At Tuesday night’s supervisors’ meeting of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors, the annual election of officers showed a lot of unhappiness and friction.
When County Administrator Charles Kolakowski conducted the election for a new chairman, Robert Duer turned to Oliver Bennett and told him that he was going to keep his word and nominated Bennett for the 2018 chairmanship. With no immediate second, Kolakowski then asked for a second with Bennett seconding his own nomination. New supervisor John Coker then nominated Spencer Murray with new supervisor David Fauber immediately seconding Murray’s nomination. The nominations were then closed and the subsequent 3-2 vote went in favor of Spencer Murray who voted for himself to break the tie.
Bennett then addressed chairman Murray directly and stated that he thought that they had a gentleman’s agreement and deal, that Murray would only serve 2 terms which were completed December 31, 2017. Bennett said that he had been sitting on the Board of Supervisors for many years and now he felt that only certain folks could represent Northampton County. Bennett still looking at Murray then stated that “your time will come and that you will be looking in the mirror”.
Murray then responding to Bennett’s comments said that the Vice Chairman is not an automatic chairman the following year. Murray then explained that he had once been Vice Chairman and not subsequently elected as chairman. Murray stated that he was unquestionably qualified to be the chairman and if the board asked him to be chairman for 2019 he would serve again. Murray then apologized to Bennett for any misunderstanding, with Bennett responding that “everything comes around.”
David Fauber nominated John Coker as Vice Chairman which was then seconded by Coker. Duer offered to nominate Oliver Bennett as Vice Chairman. Bennett responded that “he did not want to be a token”. Bennett then offered to nominate Robert Duer as Vice Chairman. Duer declined saying that he simply did not have enough time. The nominations for Vice Chairman were then closed with four votes for John Coker. Oliver Bennett abstained.