The Anson County Democratic Party nominated a replacement on Thursday for the late Claude Spencer on the County Commission.
Vancine Sturdivant was chosen from five candidates. Sturdivant is also the chairwoman of the party and would normally have voted on the process as a member of the executive committee but recused herself. The other candidates were Stephen Lear, William “Billy” Lee, Robert J. Smith and Dannie Montgomery.
Lee withdrew shortly before the vote citing what he claimed was opposition by the local party to Amendment One. Amendment One is a May 8 ballot measure that would, if passed, define marriage as between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage is already prohibited by law in North Carolina but this would put the prohibition in the state constitution.
Although he claimed the party voted to support same-sex marriage at its County Convention April 14, Sturdivant said no such vote took place and that she “didn’t know what he was talking about.” She did state her opposition to the amendment.
“I just don’t think that’s right,” he said, pointing to a Bible verse from the book of Leviticus for justification. He said this could be “the downfall of the people of Anson County.”
Lee’s statement during the meeting caused a stir as various party members present stated their support or opposition to the Amendment. Lear also stated that he was opposed to same-sex marriage.
The vote also determined that Sturdivant’s name would be on the ballot in November for the seat. She must be confirmed by a vote of the County Commission in May before assuming the seat. Whoever wins the election in November will hold the office until 2014, when Spencer’s term would have ended.
Gubernatorial candidate Bob Etheridge spoke briefly to the assembled. Etheridge is seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Governor Bev Perdue. He was a member of the U.S. Congress representing North Carolina’s 2nd District from 1997 until 2011 and before that was a county commissioner, a state representative and a state superintendent.
“This is a critical time,” he said. He believes teachers and education are under attack by the Republican Party in the state.
“That’s why I’m running,” he said. He points to more education and training for workers as part of his platform. He does not believe that a jobs plan can be one size fits all for each county.
He said tuition and fees in the last 10 years have doubled at state universities and this was a serious problem because the state constitution calls for low cost education.
“If we are committed to education, we must pay for it,” he said.
He was asked about his stance on Amendment One. He said he personally opposes it and does not believe it has any place in the state constitution.
“That’s not what we’re about in this state,” he said, adding that it was unnecessary because of the law currently prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Asked by County Commission Chair Anna Baucom how long it would take to recover from the General Assembly’s “war on women and children,” he replied “a while.” He emphasized the importance of reclaiming representative government by the Democrats.
Sturdivant said 30 voters were registered on the first day of Early Voting while 143 people cast a ballot. She wants to continue to register voters. Sturdivant said she thought about Spencer while they erected the tent nearby the Board of Elections, as he used to sit outside the polls as well.
The party will meet again May 17.