WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger has had a chaotic and controversial couple of weeks. It all came to a head yesterday when the other county commissioners asked for his resignation.
Wednesday night Berger released a statement saying he looks forward to continuing his service as a county commissioner. That has many thinking could or will there be a recall vote?
“I would need to have a substantial number of people ask me to do that,” Rep. Carolyn Justice (R-16th District) said. “I might even require them to get petitions signed and I see that it’s something that folks really want.”
State legislators from our region understand that because of the situation with Berger many people are wondering about a recall vote. Fellow commissioners asked Berger Wednesday to resign, because his personal issues have become, they said, a public distraction.
When Berger said he would not resign, it left questions about pushing a bill through the legislature to do something about it. One Pender County town recently had a similar issue.
“I recently did one for the Town of Topsail Beach,” Justice said about a recall bill. “I required that a substantial number of people actually ask me to do it. Once I wrote the bill it required that 30 percent of the registered voters petition to have it done. Then it goes on a ballot, and we decide, when writing the bill, whether it’s going on the next ballot or we choose when it’s going to be heard.”
Justice, who supported Berger’s run for county commission, says she would need Rep. Danny McComas (R) and Rep. Susi Hamilton (D) of New Hanover County to agree to support a recall bill in the legislature’s short session next spring. They would also need the support of Sen. Thom Goolsby (R), who represented Berger in court after he was arrested in June.
Rep. McComas was out of town Thursday, but said by phone that legislation can only be made while in session, and that will not happen until May. He said one thing that could get the ball rolling would be if New Hanover County Commissioners pass a resolution asking for the legislature to weigh in.
Justice says the key to considering something like this is local support.
“I think you know by listening to the news, I think you know by your phone calls, the people you meet in restaurants, I mean, you know when it begins to build and it’s something that people want,” she said.
We tried to get talk with Sen. Goolsby but he has not returned our calls.