Exactly two weeks after criminal charges were dropped against Smithfield businessman Lee Jackson, the local accountant was appointed today (Monday) to a vacant seat on the Johnston County Board of Commissioners.
Jackson was selected to fill the vacant seat created by the resignation of District 6 Commissioner Keith Branch who stepped down in September.
Jackson was one of four candidates seeking the seat. He was selected in a unanimous 6-0 vote by the board.
“I am excited for the opportunity to serve my community in this role,” Jackson told WTSB News after Monday’s vote. “I appreciate the trust that the current board of Commissioners has put in me and will do everything I can to help them make Johnston County all that it can be. My immediate goal will be to get up to speed on all the issues that the board currently has before it, so that I can make informed decisions in the near term.”
Commissioner Vice Chairman Ted Godwin said during Monday’s meeting that all four candidates had been interviewed by a committee comprised of 3 commissioners and two members of the Johnston County Republican Party. However, the committee could not reach a consensus on which candidate to recommend for the seat.
Godwin said one individual stood out from the others, and that was Jackson. Godwin said Jackson had the best interview and resume, but indicated any of the candidates would have made a good board member.
Commissioner Allen Mims said the board needed a member who would be able to “contribute in a hurry” and “someone who has been around the block.”
Commissioner Chad Stewart said the appointment would only be for a short period before voters will decide who fills the seat next year.
Branch won election in 2016 to a four year term. Because he resigned so early in his term, the District 6 seat will be up for a special election next year. Candidates can file in February 2018 and subject to a May 2018 primary will be on the November 2018 ballot.
“I would not have placed my name in consideration for the appointment if I was not intending on running to fulfill Commissioner Branch’s current term,” Jackson told WTSB. “I would rather not be merely a placeholder in this seat, but a citizen who can continue to serve.”
Darryl Mitchell, Mark Lee and Brent Wiggs had applied for the seat. Former Commissioner Tony Braswell had applied but withdrew his name for consideration.
Jackson made the news after his arrested by police at a Joe Biden Event at the Greensboro Coliseum on September 17th. Charges of communicating threats, assault on a government official and being intoxicated and disruptive were all dismissed in court on Oct. 23rd.
Jackson, a lifelong Johnston County resident, attended Smithfield Selma High and graduated from Wake Forest University in 1988.
Jackson was named the Smithfield Selma Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2013. He is the current President of Neuse Charter School Facilities, Inc and served as Chairman of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau from 2007 to 2009. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation between 1999 and 2001. Jackson is also a member of Centenary United Methodist Church.