Published: Jun 26, 2012 11:24 AM
Modified: Jun 26, 2012 05:56 PM
DURHAM - Durham County commissioners appointed former board member Phil Cousin Monday night to fill Joe Bowser’s vacated seat.
Chairman Michael Page said before the 4-0 vote that from the start, he and other board members wanted someone who could hit the ground running in the term that expires in December.
Page, who is seeking re-election along with three other incumbents, also said commissioners didn’t want to influence the November election. "The consensus of this board is that we would move toward (an interim) commissioner that would leave the race totally open in the fall,” he said.
Cousin, who is also the current chairman of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, one of the city’s major political groups, is not a candidate for a permanent seat in the general election.
Monday night’s vote marks the second time the commissioners ignored the Durham County Democratic Party’s recommendation to fill a vacated seat. The Democratic Party recommended Fred Foster, the second-highest vote getter in the 14-person May Democratic primary for five seats on the board.
In November, the five Democratic primary winners – incumbent Commissioners Page, Ellen Reckhow and Brenda Howerton, along with Foster, and Wendy Jacobs – will face at least one independent contender, Omar Beasley.
After the vote, Foster said commissioners let Durham County Republicans set the agenda. The Republican Party released a 21-year-old document earlier this month saying Foster was pushed to resign from the Durham County Department of Social Services more than two decades ago after an investigation found he worked another job on county time and sent personal mail through the county system.
“I think that’s what Republicans have given them was a way out, and they are using it,” Foster said.