“I’m here as a life-long Republican, but I’m also here as a huge fan of (County Commissioner) Jimmy Miller,” said Mount Airy Mayor David Rowe.
Rowe was at a meeting of the Surry County Republican Party last Thursday. At the meeting nearly 100 area Republicans paid tribute to Miller, who served on the Surry County Board of Commissioners for nearly three decades.
Together, Miller, Rowe and Larry Johnson (Miller’s likely replacement on the board), cut the ribbon to the party’s new headquarters at the Mayberry Mall. Miller was also presented with a plaque from party leaders to commemorate his service to the county.
Miller resigned his post at the end of March, after having suffered a defeat in the five-way March primary election. Johnson, who founded local Johnson Granite, was the top vote-getter in the election.
With no opposition from a Democrat or independent rival in the November general election, Johnson all but became the next commissioner from the Mount Airy District when he won in March.
Miller stepped down from his seat in March, stating he’d like to see Johnson get a “head start” in his role as a county commissioner.
“Larry Johnson is here tonight as well,” said party chairman Dan Kiger. “We are going to go ahead and recommend him to take Jimmy’s seat.”
The party had, indeed, already done just that. Kiger stated the party had met and made Johnson its recommendation to fill the unexpired term of Miller prior to Thursday’s ceremony.
The final decision as to who fill the seat now lies with county commissioners. The county board’s next meeting will be on April 18.
Kiger touted Miller’s years of service on the board, calling him “always open and approachable.” Miller also was one of the longest-serving county commissioners in the state.
Miller said he has been “honored” and “privileged” to have had the opportunity to serve the residents of Surry County for so long.
Kiger said he hopes the party headquarters to which Miller, Rowe and Johnson cut the ribbon will remain open after the 2016 election is over. State party chairman Hasan Harnett also made an appearance late into Thursday’s event.
Surry County Board of Commissioners Chairman Buck Golding foresees installing Johnson in Miller’s former seat soon.
Golding said plans have been made to appoint Johnson at Wednesday evening’s budget workshop. He will then be sworn into office at the board’s meeting on April 18 at 6 p.m. at Elkin High School.
A more formal swearing-in ceremony, which would be held in Dobson, was offered to Johnson. However, Golding said Johnson opted to be sworn in at the next available time.
“He’s ready to get started,” remarked Golding.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.