DOBSON — Long-time Commissioner Jimmy Miller has a strong idea who he’d like to see take his seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners.
Miller issued his letter of resignation after 28 years on the board at Monday’s meeting. And now he thinks it’s time for his successor to get a jump start on the job.
In the recent Republican primary, Mount Airy businessman Larry Johnson won a five-man race for the GOP nomination. Since there is no Democratic or independent opponent, Johnson will win the seat by default in November.
Rather than wait until after the election, Miller, 82, believes it would be better for him to step down now so that Johnson can take part in all the budget workshops about to begin.
Miller’s resignation is effective at the end of the month, and he would like to see his fellow commissioners appoint Johnson to his spot.
“He’s really gung-ho,” Miller said of Johnson a day after filing the resignation. “He stopped by the house. We talked, and he really wants to get on it.”
“The budget is the toughest part of being a commissioner,” remarked Miller. “It would be good experience for him.”
Johnson said he’s ready and willing to serve in the position.
“Of course, it must go through the proper channels,” remarked Johnson. “I’m ready if they want me.”
Johnson indicated he watched the process of filling a vacancy on the county board when Commissioner Van Tucker was appointed to the board in January.
“I can’t say what will happen, but I guess you could say I expect it (to be appointed),” said Johnson. “I won the election.”
Johnson added he had been in discussions with Miller recently, and he appreciated the “wisdom and knowledge” Miller had passed along to him.
The decision as to who fills the seat will rest on the shoulders of the remaining four board members. However, they are required by statute to seek the recommendation of the county’s Republican Executive Committee prior to making any decision.
County GOP Chairman Dan Kiger was also seemingly on board with the plan to put Johnson in the seat.
In a statement, Kiger applauded Miller’s work throughout the course of the past three decades.
“His (Miller’s) decisions were never based on partisan politics. He had integrity and was always open and approachable,” wrote Kiger. “He always had a strong commitment to support the youth and school systems in our county. His record speaks for itself.”
“As far as his replacement goes, I feel Mr. Johnson will be our recommendation to the board of commissioners,” remarked Kiger. “I’ve been impressed with his commitment and independent thinking. He reminds me a lot of Commissioner Miller.”
Kiger said as of Tuesday afternoon he had received no call from Board of Commissioners Chairman Buck Golding asking for a recommendation from the party.
Golding said he will soon be in touch with Kiger, noting the resignation isn’t effective until the end of the month.
As for who fills the vacant seat, Golding said he’s pretty certain where his vote will go.
“I will vote for the man who won the election,” remarked Golding.
County Attorney Ed Woltz said the procedure to fill the vacancy cannot necessarily start right away.
Woltz said since Miller did not issue his letter of resignation until after Monday’s meeting had been adjourned, the county board must wait until it’s next meeting, scheduled for April 4, to accept the resignation.
Woltz stated the move would not affect the effective date of Miller’s resignation.
Andy is a staff writer and can be reached at 415-4698.