Harnett Commissioners Told To Put Phones Down During Meetings

By Eliot Duke
Dunn Daily Record

Harnett County Commissioner Barbara McKoy isn’t a fan of her fellow board members using cellphones during meetings.

McKoy made a motion at the July 19 Harnett County Board of Commissioners meeting to stop cellphone use by elected officials while meetings are in progress.

“I don’t think it’s ethical so that’s why I feel like it’s something I have to address because my constituents have asked me to address it,” McKoy said at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting. “I’m here to make a motion that during the meetings, during voting times, as well as making motions, we should not be using cellphones.”

McKoy said several constituents raised concerns to her after seeing unnamed commissioners using cellphones during the June 21 meeting. Commissioners started broadcasting their monthly meetings and work sessions on YouTube as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday wasn’t the first time McKoy called out her fellow commissioners. The board’s senior member recently clashed with other commissioners over seating arrangements. Matt Nicol last month proposed the board of commissioners sit in numerical order of their districts from 1 to 5 with Chairman W. Brooks Matthews in the middle as the representative of District 3. McKoy balked at the idea, feeling her seniority earned her the right to keep the seat she’s occupied for years.

She lost the argument after commissioners outvoted her, 3-2. She fared better on the issue of social distancing when Mark Johnson and Matthews agreed to keep some space between commissioners for the time being. The initial idea centered around getting all of the commissioners on the bench as originally intended.  

“This virus is not over,” said McKoy. “We can’t ask people if they’ve had shots so I don’t feel we should change anything we have up here as far as the separation of us.”

McKoy currently sits at a table on the floor in front of the commissioners with plastic partitions on both sides of her instead of next to Mark Johnson on the far right of the bench in the new Harnett County Resource Center & Library.


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