DURHAM – Minutes after taking office, County Commissioners in a surprise decision elected new member and first-time officeholder Fred Foster to serve as their chair.
The decision came on a 3-2 vote that saw Foster join with holdover members Brenda Howerton and Michael Page. The same three also voted to make Howerton, who’s starting her second term, the board’s vice chairwoman.
Afterward, Foster acknowledged the support he received from fellow Democrats Howerton and Page was a surprise given that they’d favored unaffiliated petition candidate Omar Beasley during the fall campaign.
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Foster’s win reversed the outcome of the 2008 primary, which saw him finish out of the money while Bowser was claiming a seat on the board.
“I’m tired. I’ve been up early [campaigning] for the last 17 days of early voting and was up at 5 o’clock this morning. But I am ecstatic,” Foster said. “I’m proud of all the people who’ve been working for me. I believe we fought a good fight.”
He added that “people were not fooled” by the direct-mail campaign 751’s developers mounted on behalf of the incumbents who supported the project and challenger Rickey Padgett.
Padgett styled himself as the “people’s choice” and “voter’s voice” but proved to be neither. He finished 10th.
Foster said he thought voters rewarded the candidates who stated their views with conviction and added that he’d be sticking by his opposition to 751 “all the way to the end.”