CHATHAM COUNTY: Commissioner Kost ‘proud of record’ as she leaves board

Jan. 23, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

Chatham County Commissioner Sally Kost will resign effective Feb. 1, she announced this week.

Kost, a Democrat who represents the northeastern part of the county, was elected to the board in 2008 and again in 2012. She and her husband, Tom, have decided to move to Colorado to allow him to work on a new business venture. She sent a press release announcing her move and resignation earlier this week and also posted a goodbye message to her website.

“I ran for office on the platform of open, citizen-based government, building strong public schools, protecting our natural resources, promoting economic development and sound financial management,” Kost wrote online. “I am proud of my record, and I have stood firm on this platform.”

On her website, www.sallykost.com, she also laid out her wishes for the county in a number of areas, including working more closely with the county school board, expanding broadband Internet access to rural areas and fighting childhood obesity and hydraulic fracturing.

“That’s a tall agenda, especially for a staff that is already overburdened,” she wrote in her farewell message. “So it means you need to be strategic and efficient. ... Your job is not easy, but our community expects you to address the tough issues and to stand up for them.”

And in the press release, Kost said she was honored to have served the county for the past five years, including one year as chair of the board, and she said it was tough moving away at a time when so many contentious issues — especially the huge and hugely controversial Chatham Park development — are still undecided.

Kost was one of two Democrats on the five-person board and often positioned herself politically to the left of the more moderate Mike Cross.

Cross said Wednesday he will miss Kost, especially during budget sessions.

“She had a professional career in finance, and that was very helpful,” he said.

George Lucier, a fellow Democrat and former Chatham County commissioner who served with Kost, is quoted in the press release praising her for her staunch liberal beliefs.

“Sally has often been the lone voice on many progressive issues, including affordable housing, environmental protection and better land use planning,” Lucier, who is now petitioning for appointment to the empty N.C. House seat representing Chatham County and parts of Lee County, said. “She will be greatly missed.”

With her resignation, the seat must now be filled by the Chatham County Democratic Party. Whomever is picked would serve in an interim basis until the November election; the winner of that election will serve until 2016. Cross said that when the party meets to choose her successor, he will stay out of the discussion to let the executive committee members make their choice without any real or perceived influence from him.

Officials from the Chatham County Democratic Party couldn’t be reached for comment, but the group did post a farewell message to Kost on its Facebook page, writing, “Chatham County lost a strong voice for progressive ideals.”