WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Cape Fear Museum highlighted two of New Hanover County’s African-American commissioners Sunday.
They’re the only African-American commissioners the county has seen since 1898 and they just happen to be father and son.
Jonathan Barfield Sr. and Jonathan Barfield Jr. are that duo. The father served the county for 12 years and the son has been serving since 2008.
They’ve seen plenty of changes in the county and government during that time. Barfield Sr. said he believes times were easier when he was serving. He admits it was a different time, but feels everybody has individual agendas now.
“Its a whole bunch of room to improve," said Barfield Sr. "If you’re going to represent your people and your group, well then that’s where we’re going to be. But if you’re going to represent all of the people of New Hanover county then you should be very, very inclusive.”
Barfied Jr. grew up watching his father work and helping with his campaign. The son says he remembers the exact day he knew he wanted to run for office. He says he wanted to give his community a voice, to show somebody that looked like them could sit in a position of power. He believes that diversity as a county commission and as government as a whole can play a crucial role.
“There’s a phrase that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu," said Barfield Jr. "Its so great to have diversity of thought as well as diversity of background coming to the table that will make people think in a different way about certain things. I think he brought that and I do as well, just coming from a different community, having a different background helps people think in a different way and be more inclusive as we have conversations.”
The Barfields said they wish there was more diversity in leadership roles in the county. They believe that diversity will help push forward the county’s future.