NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Commissioners in New Hanover County voted 3-1 Friday afternoon to appoint Thomas Wolfe to fill an open seat on the board.
Wolfe, the chairman of the ABC Board, was chosen over Dr. Derrick Hickey who is a member of the NHC School Board.
Hickey ran for one of three open seats on the Board of Commissioners in November, but finished fourth in the voting. He was also nominated by the county's Republican Party to fill the seat.
Hickey told WECT.com he was "disappointed" by the board's decision.
"Once again, what we've gone ahead and done is we've chosen an old white guy," he said. "Say what you will about the process with Melissa Gott. She was a Latino woman. I'm also Hispanic and I don't understand why the Republican Party continues to remain the party of old white men and erase the leaders of diversity."
Gott was also nominated by the Republican Party to fill Ted Davis' seat when he left to take a seat in Raleigh. Issues were raised over where Gott exactly lived, but Hickey said it all had to do with her ethnicity.
Hickey went on to explain that the board's decision was based on "who's friends with who." He said he was upset with Woody White, who is the chair to the board, and his decision to vote for Wolfe.
"Mr. White and I have known each other for ten years now," said Hickey. "We're neighbors. I live several houses down from Mr. White and I've counted him as a friend and so for him to say this isn't personal...it's political first, but certainly, at least for me, it is deeply personal."
The open seat on the Board of Commissioners came up when Rick Catlin resigned earlier this month. Catlin was elected to serve as a Representative from District 20 in the General Assembly.
WECT.com reached out to Commissioner Jonathan Barfield regarding Hickey's comments. Barfield said the board has always been diverse and will continue to be that way with the new members.
Wolfe said his resume speaks for itself and said he hopes to bring his years of experience and knowledge to the table.
Wolfe is scheduled to be sworn in on Monday.
Friday night, Hickey sent the following email to WECT:
First, I'd like to congratulate Mr. Wolfe on his selection. Obviously, I am disappointed by Mr. White's and Ms. Dawson's refusal to second my nomination today. However, I could not be more thankful for the support of my devoted wife, children and supporters through the primary, the general election, and this effort to be appointed to the vacant seat. I have more blessings than to which anyone is entitled. The tragedy that unfolded today in CT is a stark reminder of this, and my heart and prayers are with the families of the victims of this senseless crime.
Together, we ran an amazing campaign that shows that the beliefs we hold resonate with the voters. That's more important than what two people think. Nevertheless, today's vote is a disturbing harbinger of the power politics that we are about to witness. We came in second in the primary, over 47,000 people supported the campaign the general election, and we won the support of the Republican Party executive committee last night by a very large margin. Unfortunately, that is not enough for Mr. White and Ms. Dawson.
Ms. Dawson is particularly disappointing since her campaign focused almost exclusively on the diversity she would bring to the board as a woman. After reading the commentary on the presidential election, for a brief moment, I thought that perhaps she was ahead of the curve in seeing that Republicans must reach minority voters and women in order to remain a viable party. After all, that is one of the most important lessons that we have all learned since the November 6th election. I was mistaken. Her arguments for diversity appear to be mere cant. When given an opportunity to appoint a conservative Hispanic to the County Commission, who had won the backing of the electorate and the Republican Party Executive Committee, she declined. As for Mr. White, well, frankly I'm mystified. I can't explain his refusal to second my nomination. It would seem power motivates him more than fidelity to the voters or the party he represents.
I'd also like to correct the reports that some of you may have read in the media claiming that I said that the selection of Mr. Wolfe was racist. Only Mr. White and Ms. Dawson can explain their motivations. But my background in healthcare would have filled an obvious void that would have been useful in considering the numerous issues that will be addressed in the coming term. Will we sell our county hospital (as was previously proposed)? Will we renovate and reopen WASTEC? What industries do we want to develop in our county? How will we protect our environment? I think it would be helpful to have the input of a healthcare professional when considering these questions; Mr. White and Ms. Dawson did not.
Ms. Dawson and Mr. White missed an opportunity today to reach out to voters that our party needs if we are going to be competitive in the future. They missed an opportunity to have a physician on weighty issues that the County Commission will confront. And while I am saddened by outcome of the meeting today, I couldn't be more proud of what we've accomplished. I am more committed than ever to the causes that we believe in and to the party that I belong to. Energy and persistence conquer all things.
I remained committed to the citizens of New Hanover County.
Derrick G. Hickey, MD
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