Davis takes oath for N.C. House

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY – While the challenge of election remains for Ted Davis Jr. in his bid to represent N.C. House District 19, the early resignation of legislator and fellow Republican Danny McComas has allowed Davis to slide in for the short remainder of McComas’s term.

Davis following his oath of office Wednesday evening. Photo by Ben Brown.

Davis, who resigned from the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners recently in light of the opening, took his oath of office Wednesday evening in the commission’s downtown Wilmington chambers. He told a crowd of supporters and peers that he thought the location appropriate, as a few feet behind him was the empty seat he had occupied as the county commission’s longtime chairman. He was first elected to the board in 1996.

“By receiving this appointment, if I am elected,” Davis said Wednesday of the House post, “I will already have seniority” by the time other, new legislators are sworn-in this coming January. Davis explained that could give him muscle in his plan to fight for his district from Raleigh.

He said beach renourishment and reducing taxes were among his central focuses.

Davis, who was nominated by his party to fill the District 19 vacancy, will face Democrat Emilie Swearingen, currently a Kure Beach town commissioner, in the November 6 general election.

McComas, who was present Wednesday, had served nine terms in the District 19 seat before his resignation early this month. Following an appointment from Gov. Bev Perdue, McComas, a trucking company executive, is now chairman of the N.C. State Ports Authority Board of Directors.

Davis’s departure from the five-seat county commission has left a potentially problematic dynamic—a four-member board able to deadlock on tie votes.

“If they have a tie, they have a problem,” said New Hanover County Republican Party Chairwoman Rhonda Amoroso. “They are telling us they need a tie-breaker.”

Because a Republican last held the vacated commission seat, another Republican will fill it, at least until November’s election. Amoroso’s party is expected to make a recommendation for that appointment on or around October 3.

“My goal, our goal, is to recommend someone who is qualified, competent, and who can hit the ground running, roll up their sleeves and get to work,” Amoroso said.

Of the term to fill, she added: “It’s not a long time they’re talking about here, but you never know what could happen.”

The GOP has interviewed at least a dozen candidates for the fifth commission seat, including Wilmington attorney Melissa Gott, financial advisor and past county commission candidate Jason Harris, Pastor Tony McGhee, and Bruce Shell, New Hanover County’s former manager.

As for interest and likely candidacy, “The names change and the buzz about them changes week to week,” Amoroso said. “Ultimately, the county commissioners will make the decision.”