Forsyth County Commission appoints Irene May to school board

Irene May addresses members of the Forsyth County Commission before a vote to appoint her to fill an unexpired term on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board.  

The Republican-controlled Forsyth County Commission voted by secret ballot to appoint Irene May to a seat on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board, passing over seven other contenders, including Lori Goins Clark, who ran for a seat on the board in 2010 and serves as president of Forsyth Republican Women.

May will be sworn in to replace school board Chairman Donny Lambeth, who is taking a seat in the NC House. The decision on the school board seat followed a vote by acclamation to appoint Mark Baker to fill the unexpired term of Commissioner Debra Conrad, who is also taking a seat in the NC House.

A four-member bloc of the commission, including Baker, Chairman Richard Linville, Gloria Whisenhunt and Bill Whiteheart, overruled objections from the board's two Democrats and one moderate Republican, who wanted more time to vet the candidates. 

Whiteheart argued that those who had attended the Forsyth County Republican Party executive committee meeting on Dec. 18 had already had the opportunity to vet the candidates. The executive committee voted at that time to recommend David Regnery for the vacant position. Three other Republicans, including May, Goins Clark and David Singletary, had also put their names forward for consideration. 

A surprise announcement by Regnery in the Winston-Salem Journal yesterday that he was withdrawing his name from consideration set in motion a scramble to find a replacement. Louis Newton, Mark R. Johnson and Barbara Lentz, were among those who contacted commissioners expressing interest in the seat following Regnery's withdrawal. Commissioners also received an e-mail recommending Robert Barr, who also ran for school board in 2010. 

Regnery's withdrawal reportedly came while the Journal was raising questions about whether the candidate, who lives in Winston-Salem, had represented himself as a Davie County resident to obtain Class 3 weapons, a category that includes machine guns. Camel City Dispatch was the first local publication to raise questions about Regnery's background as a gun enthusiast in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. 

The decision by the conservative Republican majority on the commission to appoint May to the seat represents a choice to select a second hard-right candidate after the party's first choice withdrew, over a moderate with name recognition among voters from past campaign experience. 

A visibly upset Goins Clark said as she left the meeting room about how the vote to install May was engineered: "You'll have to ask the conservatives."

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