Durham County Commissioners Michael Page and Ellen Reckhow swapped jobs
this morning as the newly elected board got down to business --
In its first official act, the board elected Page its
chairman; next, it elected Reckhow vice-chairwoman. Page had been
vice-chairman for a year, while Reckhow had chaired the board since
Next, the board approved the bonds of public officials
and recessed for a reception, capping a ceremonial meeting that also
saw new Commissioner Brenda Howerton and returning Commissioner Joe
Bowser sworn into their seats along with incumbents Page, Reckhow and
District Court Judge William Marsh also administered
oaths to Soil and Water District Supervisor Danielle Adams and Register
of Deeds Willie Covington.
Apparently, the business was old hat
for Covington, who has been register of deeds since 1996: His
certificate of election was found left in his seat afterward.
oath-taking went on in the commissioners' chamber at the Old
Courthouse, which was packed with county department heads and other
staff members, political players and commissioners' relatives.
Elections Director Mike Ashe opened the ceremonies with comments about the election just passed.
"Life is good and getting better," he said. "Democracy is alive and well in Durham County."
in Durham "set new records in every measurable category," he said, and
he congratulated the winners on taking "the peoples' choice awards."
spoke from a makeshift podium, consisting of a microphone atop a
pasteboard box resting on an end table. Marsh said that while times are
tough, Ashe's setup "takes austerity to a whole new level."
in all, it was an informal and cheery get-together, with serious
business left for later as well as the question whether old conflicts
will remain in the past or haunt the county for the next four years.
served on the county board from 1996 until 2004, losing his re-election
bid after a county employee accused him of an ethics violation and an
ensuing dispute with Reckhow, Heron and County Manager Mike Ruffin.
Bowser lost his seat, commissioners fired Ruffin, voting 3-2 in a
black-white split. After the new board took office, it re-hired Ruffin,
again voting 3-2 but with a white majority.
and Page give the board again a 3-2 black majority, but what
significance that holds, if any, is to be seen. Bowser and Page were
endorsed by the historically influential Durham Committee on the
Affairs of Black People, but Howerton was not.
This morning, Ruffin said he and Bowser had been getting along well since this year's election.