Is a recall election an option to remove Commissioner Berger?

Published: Mar. 22, 2013 at 8:14 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 26, 2013 at 8:14 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - It appears state and local leaders have little legal recourse to remove Commissioner Brian Berger from office, other than the possibility of a non-domestic restraining order.

A recall election can only be held if the General Assembly approves it for a specific county or city.

According to Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover), the deadline has passed for filing a local bill, which would be necessary to allow a recall election. The next time that one could be filed would be in April or May of 2014.

Commission Chair Woody White said in the past, commissioners have considered requesting a recall, but considered it a long shot, due to the constitutionality and other associated issues with a local recall election.

"We would have pushed for that long ago if we could," said White. "We have asked informally our delegation to consider doing that. We were reluctant for a variety of public policy reasons, they're tricky and they cost money. At this point, because his mental health is so unstable it is something we will consider."

White said at this point, the county would have to ask the legislature for a recall that would encompass the whole state, something that could have huge implications.

White said the board is exploring its legal options, saying, "We're doing everything we can within the law for our own safety and the safety of our staff."

"Elections have consequences," Hamilton said. "If people are voting down party lines, these things happen. It's critical that people understand who they are voting for. To create a public policy for a recall is not responsible because it would not be isolated to just one issue."

Hamilton said she is joining White in asking Berger to step down.

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