Montgomery to succeed N.C. Rep. Ed Hanes

Former 72nd District State Rep. Ed Hanes shakes the hand of his successor, City Council Member Derwin Montgomery on Sunday.

Montgomery to succeed N.C. Rep. Ed Hanes
August 16
08:42 2018

The Forsyth County Democratic Party selected City Council Member Derwin Montgomery to succeed Ed Hanes as the representative for the 72nd District in the N.C. General Assembly.

The party’s selection of Montgomery for the seat was made at a special meeting on Sunday and is expected to be approved by the governor this week. Montgomery’s resignation from the City Council will not be immediate, and he will continue to represent the East Ward until then. The City Council will need to decide how to replace him, which may involve the council picking his successor, the council accepting a nomination from the local Democratic Party or calling for a special election for the seat, which the city would have to pay for.

Mayor Allen Joines was polling council members this week and may bring a resolution before the council on Monday outlining that plan.

Hanes had asked Montgomery if he’d be willing to succeed him.

“I’m super impressed with Derwin and the work that he’s done and his ability to come to Winston-Salem and learn the culture,” Hanes told The Chronicle last week. “He has become basically, a hometown guy in a short period of time.”

Montgomery said he’d had discussions with his fellow council members to make sure the work he started with the city would continue before agreeing to Hanes request that he take the seat. He said he was humbled his fellow Democrats agreed to send him to Raleigh.

“Any time you put yourself out there and people vote for you, it’s a humbling experience because they don’t have to, but it also is very much sobering at the same time when you think about the work that has to be done,” he said.

Montgomery, a Columbia, S.C. native, was a senior at Winston-Salem State University when he was first elected in 2009, becoming the youngest City Council member in Winston-Salem’s history. He said for now he expects to continue his roles as executive director of the Bethesda Center for the Homeless, pastor of First Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and co-owner of The Chronicle.

Hanes told Democrats Sunday he resigned with a “heavy heart” but had a situation he needed to take advantage of that required his full attention immediately. He said he’ll be revealing more about what that is in the coming weeks.

When he announced his retirement last Tuesday, he also announced Montgomery had agreed to take his place.  That evening, the local Democratic Party sent an email to precinct chairs and vice chairs, other precinct officials, and elected officials in the 72nd District informing them of the new vacancy, inviting any Democrat living in the district to run for it and that a meeting would be held Sunday in which they’d vote to fill that seat.

Only Montgomery sent an email expressing interest in the seat. He did have some friendly competition from Annette Scippio, the retired executive director of Leadership Winston-Salem and a Winston Lake precinct chair. Scippio had come there to support Montgomery, but at the urging of friends, accepted a nomination made at the meeting to run for the seat. The two nominees stood at the front of the room, occasionally exchanging words and smiles as they waited for the vote.

But before that could happen, Democratic leadership had to deal with controversy from Hanes publicly picking his successor ahead of time and the short notice for the meeting.

Joycelyn Johnson, who served on the City Council before losing to Montgomery in 2009, objected to the notice about the meeting only being sent to those eligible to vote on the matter and not the general public, who she said might not have known they could run for the seat. She also said she got a call about who was going to be nominated the day before the resignation was announced.

“I have no interest in running, but I do have an interest in making sure that we have a fair process in the selection process,” she said. “Regardless of who it is, we need to make sure we are fair and we have given everyone who was interested in running the opportunity to do that and we have not.”

Eunice Campbell moved to delay the vote. Party Chairman Eric Ellison and Vice Chairwoman Jenny Marshall said that Hanes had removed his name from the ballot, so the party needed to put someone on it. Ellison said the party had to act quickly to submit the name in time for it to be on the ballot. According to state law, the Democrats had to certify and submit the replacement at least 75 days before election day, which is August 23, to be on the ballot.

Ellison also pointed out that Republican lawmakers, who control the General Assembly, can call a special session at any time, with or without that seat being filled.

State Sen. Paul Lowe, who was in attendance, urged Democrats to vote on Sunday.

“As your senator in Raleigh, the scariest thing for me right now is to hear that we might not have an election and we might not have a Democrat listed on that ballot,” he said.

Ellison said as far as the party was concerned, there was no “heir apparent” to the seat and that the party never mentioned Hanes picking Montgomery in the email it sent.“I have not colluded or conspired with anybody on an heir apparent,” Ellison said to laughter and applause from his fellow Democrats.

The motion to not vote was overwhelmingly voted down. Montgomery was picked to fill the seat by a 27-9 vote. In a separate vote, he was then chosen to be on the November ballot when no other candidates stepped forward.

In his victory speech, Montgomery emphasized expanding Medicaid, something the General Assembly has refused to do so far. His literature for party officials at the meeting also said he’d champion universal pre-K, solar and clean energy tax credits, women’s rights, criminal justice reform, behavioral health issues and affordable housing.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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