After a contentious discussion Tuesday, the Bryan County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to fill the open District 4 seat left vacant after Carter Infinger resigned to run for commissioners chairman last month.
The commissioners appointed Dallas Daniel to serve until the Nov. 8 general election.
Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said whoever wins that election will be seated at the board’s November meeting to serve the remaining two years of Infinger’s term. Infinger had to resign because state law does not allow a person to seek elected office while holding a different elected office.
“Did anyone else express an interest?” District 5 Commissioner Rick Gardner asked. “I haven’t had a chance to interview anyone for this appointment.”
Burnsed said he felt the board needed to take action so as not to leave the district without representation for six months. He also noted that the appointment has to be approved by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
“I’m not saying (Daniel) can’t serve as well as any of us on this board,” Gardner said. “I just feel uncomfortable with this popping up like this, and no one in the district knew it was coming.”
District 1 Commissioner Noah Covington disagreed.
“There has already been discussion about this,” he said. “Carter announced he was going to resign. The people knew it. This is not dirty. You’re portraying it that way, and I don’t appreciate it.”
Daniel, owner of Plantation Lumber and Hardware, was not at the meeting and was not immediately available for comment.
Gardner said at the end of the meeting that commissioners several years ago had a reputation of taking action without fully discussing items in open session.
“Part of my responsibility is to make sure information is known so it doesn’t appear like we’re making backroom deals,” he said. “I don’t want to see the board accused of not informing the public.”
Infinger, who was first elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, said Wednesday that a decade ago, a citizen watchdog group attended meetings and that commissioners met only in the mornings in Pembroke.
The board changed that in 2011 and now meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month, alternating between Pembroke and Richmond Hill. Board meetings are also recorded and posted online for people to review.