Pasquotank GOP censures Overman, pulls support for his re-election bid
By Paul Nielsen The Daily Advance Staff Writer Oct 5, 2022
The Pasquotank Republican Party has voted to censure and cease all support for GOP at-large Commissioner Barry Overman in his bid for re-election next month.
The censure resolution, passed by the local GOP Tuesday night, claims that as a commissioner, Overman has repeatedly voted “against conservative values” while showing “indisputable support” for liberal values.
“The Pasquotank County GOP formally censures Commissioner Barry Overman for his failure to support conservative Republican goals and policies for Pasquotank County during his tenure as a member of the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners and his failure to participate with and support other Republican members of the Pasquotank County Commissioners and the Pasquotank County Republican Party,” the resolution states.
GOP executive board member Robert Newell said one person at Tuesday’s meeting voted against the resolution while the rest of the 38-40 party members in attendance approved the measure in a voice vote.
Overman is seeking a second term on the Board of Commissioners in the Nov. 8 election and is one of three candidates seeking two open at-large seats. Democrat and fellow incumbent Commissioner Charles Jordan and fellow Republican Wayne Parker are the other two candidates. Voters can vote for two of the three candidates in the election.
The local GOP’s resolution caught Overman by surprise. Interviewed Wednesday afternoon, Overman said the local GOP party had “never reached out to me” regarding his voting record. He said to be attacked as a sitting Republican commissioner without having an opportunity to respond was disturbing.
“Not once has anyone from that group reached out to me and asked me for my stance or for my reasoning,” Overman said. “It’s a shame because quite a bit has been taken out of context. It’s a shame this is the route that they have chosen to take. I have been in some type of service my whole life, my career, my volunteering. That is what my life has been about.’’
Newell said the tipping point for those who supported the resolution was Overman’s recent vote to sell a county-owned tract in Dare County to the town of Kitty Hawk for $4.1 million.
Overman joined Democratic commissioners Jordan, Cecil Perry and Lloyd Griffin in approving the sale in August. GOP commissioners Jonathan Meads and Sean Lavin opposed the sale, saying the county should do a new appraisal of the property, which has a tax value of $5.1 million, before selling it. Meads also advocated for a $4.8 million selling price.
“The final straw was when (Overman) voted with the Democratic county commissioners to sell the property in Dare County for $1 million under its tax value,” Newell said. “Everybody but the one ‘no’ vote voted yes (on the resolution).”
Overman called the $4.1 million sale price for the Kitty Hawk property a “reasonable” offer, noting that a new appraisal could have come in “higher or lower.” He said he was also concerned about not knowing how commercial property sales would go in the future because of the economy.
“It was a great opportunity to sell a property that was costing us money to keep,” Overman said. “It was common sense.”
Former mayoral candidate Christina Williams, a registered Republican, said she was the only party member who voiced opposition to the resolution. Williams, who is also the founder and executive director of the conservative Pasquotank Political Action Committee, agreed that around 40 people attended the meeting but said that a lot of people “chose to stay silent” on the voice vote for Overman’s censure.
“I didn’t want to go along with that, it was inappropriate,” Williams said of the resolution censuring Overman. “A lot of people didn’t seem to understand what they were voting on when they voted.’’
Williams believes that the intent of the resolution is an effort to hold an “elected official accountable.”
“But this close to an election, I don’t think this is the appropriate time to do that,” she said.
The resolution also indirectly references the removal of the Confederate Monument from the Pasquotank County Courthouse to private property in Nixonton. Overman was one of four commissioners — and the only Republican — who voted in favor of the move that passed the board on a 4-3 vote in July 2020.
The censure resolution states “the party supports a unified strategy to stop the removal of our historic monuments, make fiscally responsible choices, provide fair election processes and keep the citizens of Pasquotank County safe.”
Williams said the Pasquotank GOP had never taken an official stand on the removal of the Confederate Monument until Tuesday night.
“The Pasquotank Republican Party itself as a group has never discussed the Confederate Monument,” she said. “We have never had any votes to say as a group we are for keeping the monument or against moving the monument. They did include that in the resolution and that is one of the reasons I also voted ‘no.’ The political party’s purpose is to get a candidate elected and not to worry about those other things.’’
Williams thinks the resolution will have little effect on the election, saying she believes Overman and Jordan will be re-elected by the voters. She noted the PAC has not endorsed any candidate in the at-large race.
“I don’t think this really does anything except do a disservice to our sitting county commissioner,” Williams said, referring to Overman. “No disrespect to Wayne Parker, but I did not see the point of a political party coming out against a sitting county commissioner.”
Newell acknowledged that Jordan is likely to be re-elected and that ceasing party support for Overman is an effort to get Parker elected.
“We know that Charles Jordan will win re-election anyway because of the demographics of the county,” Newell said, an apparent reference to the large number of Black voters in the county. Jordan is Black.
“Our main focus is getting Wayne Parker elected,” Newell said. “Hopefully, this will be enough for people to vote for Wayne Parker only. Therefore, Barry Overman will lose re-election and Wayne Parker will take his seat.”
Overman said the local GOP’s censure resolution won’t affect how he votes as a county commissioner.
“I try to vote for what is best for everybody,” he said. “I don’t pay any attention to what party member voted for what. I don’t think that is how you do good business. You vote for what is good for the entire county and not for what is good for just one party.’’