Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Anita Daniels deserves the nod to replace Joe Bowser on the Board of County Commissioners
It’s only six months. Right? Selecting someone to complete the term vacated by Joe Bowser is no big deal. Right? Members of the Durham Board of County Commissioners can easily make that decision. Right?
Hold on, wait a minute. This is Durham, NC, and there is no such thing as an easy decision. The last time members of the Board of County Commissioner were stuck with the same task they ended up picking Pam Karriker, a supporter of Amendment One. Her short stint on the board is a reminder that not everyone living in Durham has tolerance oozing from their bones.
Karriker, along with her four comrades, have been stuck with the charge of replacing Joe Bowser after he was taken to the wood shed and given an old fashion beat down during the primary. Old Joe’s feelings were so hurt that he decided to take his toys and go home.
Picking a person to serve a six month term is a thorny task when placed within the context of Durham’s old school political culture. The most heartbreaking part of how things get done in Durham is how virtually everything is tied to an antiquated system that fails to serve the average Jane and Joe citizen. Those squeaky wheels get all of the attention, and, at the end of the day, what is best is often compromised to satisfy the interest of someone holding the perception of power.
That’s why the best person to replace Bowser – for six months – may get overlooked. That person is Anita Daniels.
This six month term of duty is tied to a system that demands being fed bits of morsels from the table of power. On that table are old names that represent, in the minds of those holding power, the essence of credibility. Only a few are allowed to sit at the table. It’s a system that feeds on its own while frustrating the growth within footsteps of actualization.
The characters at the table are few. Fred Foster, Jr., who placed near the top among those receiving votes in the primary election, is the favorite among Bill Bell and others who have chimed in on Bowser’s replacement. Foster’s showing during the primary, combined with Wendy Jacob’s willingness to bow out of taking office early, is why it will be difficult for Commissioners to pass on his taking office.
Hold my mule. That may be politically advantageous, but Daniels is the one for the job. Why?
I take serious issue with Foster taking office prior to relinquishing his role as President of the Durham NAACP. There is nothing within the guidelines of the NAACP or with the Board of County Commissioners that negate his right to hold both offices; however, serving in both capacities reflect a lack of sensitivity to the potential of serious conflicts of interest. The work of the NAACP will be compromised by having a President who can’t speak on behalf of the organization due to his role as a member of the Board of County Commissioners.
There is also the matter of the November election. It appears that Omar Beasley will be placed on the ballot along with the five Democrats who survived the primary. Although Foster was on top of the heap among those who collected votes, the will of the people is still in question, and we can’t assume that Foster will survive in November. By appointing Foster before the November election, Foster is granted footing over others who remain in the competition.
Phil Cousins, chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, is a favorite among many. Cousins is capable of entering the work with both feet on the ground due to having served as a County Commissioner. He brings knowledge that will make for a smooth transition. The problem with Cousins is his current role as Chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. Although the Durham Committee’s Political Committee is not chaired by Cousins, serving the Board of County Commissioners would be a major conflict of interest due to the November election. Not to mention that Cousins has a tough task in convincing people that Lavonia Allison isn’t pulling the strings of the organization.
Another option would be to seek the service of another former commissioner. The most likely choice would be Maryann Black, who currently serves on the staff at Duke Medicine. Becky Heron, who resigned from the board last year, is another possibility, but don’t hold your breath.
The other option would be to select from the list of those who lost during the primary. There are two who stand out: Anita Daniels and Elaine Hyman. Both have experience in county government as department heads. Daniels, in addition to her experience as an executive with the United Way, has worked in city government.
Daniels gets the nod over Hyman due to her strong showing during the primary. Although it’s only six months, those at the table are passing on the one waving to get their attention.
In my opinion, it's the best move to make. But, who am I? I'm not at the freaking table.