Dawson first woman to chair county commissioners since 1983

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Beth Dawson
Beth Dawson

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners has elected their first female chair in more than 30 years.

Beth Dawson, a Republican who has served on the board since 2012, was chosen by her peers Monday to serve as chairwoman for 2016 in a 3-2 vote after being nominated by previous chair Jonathan Barfield, Jr, a Democrat. The board’s other Democrat, Commissioner Rob Zapple, seconded the motion. Barfield was then elected vice-chair by the same vote count.

“It is an honor to serve the citizens of New Hanover County, and I look forward to continuing to ensure that our community grows and prospers in a meaningful way,” Dawson said.

Dawson previously served as the board’s vice-chair under Commissioner Woody White during his two years as chairman (2012-2014) and under Barfield during his tenure over the last year.

Prior to Dawson, the last woman to serve as chair of the county board was Democrat Karen E. Gottovi, who was first elected to serve as chairwoman in December 1982 and re-elected in 1983.

A retired banker, Dawson is a native North Carolinian and graduate of North Carolina State University who has lived in New Hanover County for over 25 years. Since her election to the board of commissioners, she has represented them on the Cape Fear Council of Governments Executive Committee, the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees and the Wilmington Film Commission, among others.

She will serve as chairwoman for a one-year term. Dawson is up for re-election to the county board in 2016 and has already filed her candidacy for the March primary election.