Baker tapped for Forsyth commission; school board vacancy yet to be filled

by Jordan Green

About 80 members of the Forsyth County Republican Party Executive Committee voted last week to recommend Mark Baker to replace Debra Conrad, who is resigning from the Forsyth County Commission to take a seat in the NC House.

Baker, a member of the Tobaccoville Village Council and principal of Salem Baptist Christian School, defeated John R. Bost in the secret-ballot vote. Party Chairman Scott Cumbie said a three-member committee collected the votes, counted them and reported them to him, but the final tally was not divulged because “we don’t want to create any embarrassment or controversy.”

Bost, who serves as mayor of Clemmons, and Baker both ran for county commission this year, placing fourth and fifth respectively. The three incumbent commissioners in the race held their seats in District B by corralling enough votes to take the first three rankings in the primary.

Of the two candidates to replace Conrad, Baker is considered more conservative, particularly on social issues, where he will be in sync with Republican District B members Richard Linville and Gloria Whisenhunt, along with Republican at-large member Bill Whiteheart. But Baker parts ways with the Republican majority, including the departing Conrad, in his opposition to economic incentives.

The county commission has scheduled a special called meeting next month to appoint Conrad’s replacement, and Baker is expected to be approved for the position.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board is also filling a vacancy. Chairman Donny Lambeth ran unopposed in NC House District 75 to replace Rep. Bill McGee. Lambeth announced that he plans to resign his seat effective Dec. 31.

Theo Helm, spokesman for the district, said the school board’s bylaws call for the county commission to appoint Lambeth’s replacement.

Politics and process dictate that the new school board member will be a Republican. Lambeth, a Republican, currently serves as chairman of the partisan board. And the Republican Party controls the county commission. Republican members of the commission and the school board will almost certainly want one of their own to fill the vacancy.

The vacancies on the two local boards are the end result of a sequence of changes in the county delegation to the NC House. Through redistricting, retirements and pursuit of higher office, the five representatives during the next session will be entirely new faces for the county. While Lambeth is leaving the school board to represent District 75 in the wake of McGee’s political retirement, Conrad is taking a seat that she won after Rep. Dale Folwell opted to vacate so he could run — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — for lieutenant governor.