Sue Lee, who made history in 2014 as the first female county commissioner in Sampson, wants to extend her stay on the board. She delivered the news to The Independent on Friday, quelling rumors circulating that she would not seek reelection.
“I have decided to run as commissioner again,” said Lee, whose term will not expire until the end of 2018. “This is really premature, but there has been some speculation that I would not (run).”
Lee said she spoke to her family and those in the community who supported her the first time around. That support is still there, she noted.
Following her unopposed election to the Sampson Board of Commissioners’ District 3 seat in November 2014, Lee was promptly elected as the board’s vice-chairperson the next month, another first for a female for this county. Lee, a Republican, has served as vice-chairwoman since that time — first under former chairman Billy Lockamy and now under District 1 representative Clark Wooten.
Lockamy’s last meeting came in December 2016 after eight years on the board. Lee has continued as vice-chair in the past year under fellow Republican Wooten, who was also elected for his first term in 2014 and will be facing an expiring term next year along with Commissioner Albert Kirby, the longest-tenured commissioner on the current board. Kirby is in the midst of his second term, having served on the board for the past seven years.
At the end of 2016, the new-look board officially added Republican Jerol Kivett, who took over the District 2 seat vacated by Lockamy. Commissioner Harry Parker, the Democrat who serves as District 4 representative, also earned his second term in an unopposed race and was sworn in with Kivett.
Lee’s announcement comes in a cycle in which the board will remain intact.
“I still want to work on county spending so we can do better as a government entity,” said Lee, who pointed out “an excellent” county workforce and a “very impressive” county administrative staff. Lee said the work put in by the five commissioners was more than she expected coming in, but it has been worth it and she has taken every meeting and the subject matter seriously, she noted.
“I was just amazed at how much time it takes,” said Lee, who said she has poured over numerous agendas and budgets. “I have not cast one vote with the premise to get reelected, but on what would be best for the county. If I’m invited to an event or need to attend a meeting, I feel like I need to go. I think I’m making a difference.”
In October 2015, Lee took the gavel and presided over the board at its regular meeting in the absence of Lockamy, another piece of history. Wooten was elected unanimously to the head seat by his fellow board members at the end of last year only after Lee, nominated by Wooten, withdrew her name from consideration.
Away from the board, Lee owns the award-winning Precision Tool & Stamping, Inc. with husband of 46 years, Tart. The Clinton-based business has been in operation for the better part of four decades. She is a member of First Baptist Church and has been heavily involved as PTSO president for multiple terms with various city schools.
“(Tart) has been extremely supportive. I think he wanted me to run again,” Lee remarked. “It becomes a passion. Four years is just not enough to make the kind of impact I want to make on Sampson County.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.