The chair of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party said leaders want to spend time this week honoring the memory of Mecklenburg commissioner Valerie Woodard before they discuss how to fill her seat on the county board.
On Monday, Joel Ford said he is not entertaining any calls from people interested in the District 3 seat. But he said people have called to ask about the process for appointing a new commissioner, including how members will vet those interested in replacing Woodard.
“We do have a process,” he said. “I'm confident in that process and I'm confident that we will be able to correctly pull this process off after we've shown our respects.”
Woodard, 56, died Friday of a rare blood disorder.
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She had served on the county board since 2002, representing a heavily Democratic and minority area that includes central, east and north Charlotte neighborhoods. As commissioner, she was known for her strong stands on social issues, including HIV and AIDS, and making sure the county used minority contractors for projects.
Woodard was running unopposed for a fourth term in the Nov. 4 election.
Under state law, the executive committee of the Mecklenburg Democratic party will appoint a nominee to serve a two-year term that would start in December. However, a smaller group of party members could pick someone to finish Woodard's current term, subject to commissioners' approval.
Woodard's name would still be on ballots, which have already been printed. Any vote for Woodard would go to the nominee selected by the party.
Many leaders have said it's too early to know who might be candidates to succeed Woodard. Darrel Williams, who served in the District 3 seat from 1994 to 2002, said Monday he is not interested.
Some commissioners have said they think the same person should fill both the immediate vacancy, as well as the next two-year term.
“Out of respect to the county commissioners, I want to work with them and make sure we get the process right the first time … after we take care of the family,” Ford said.
The county party drew criticism after a special election late last year to replace retiring Sheriff Jim Pendergraph.
Charlotte lawyer Nick Mackey was picked by county Democrats to fill the sheriff vacancy, but a state panel threw out the results after determining precincts were improperly organized before the election.
County Democrats, under the supervision of the state party, were ordered to reorganize all their precincts. In May, a special election was held to replace former state Rep. Pete Cunningham, who resigned from the General Assembly.
Ford said that election ran without problems, adding that the local party has new leadership and is in compliance with party rules. He said he doesn't anticipate any challenges this time.