Randolph County's legislative delegation has filed a lawsuit seeking to remove the chairman of the Randolph County Economic Development Council and replace him with an appointment of their own.
State Sen. Gerald Dial and state Rep. Richard Laird are named as plaintiffs. Named as defendants are the Economic Development Council and its chairman Jerry Cotney. The suit was filed in the Randolph County Circuit Clerk's Office on September 11.
The lawsuit stems from the appointment by Dial and Laird on June 21, 2012 of Jeffery Nolen to a seat on the Economic Development Council, the seat that has been held by Cotney. The legislators maintain that Cotney is holding the position "unlawfully" as his term has expired.
Cotney has a notarized statement by former state Sen. Kim Benefield, dated June 7, 2012, stating that while she was serving as state senator for this district prior to Dial regaining the office she re-appointed Cotney to a second four-year term in 2009. Cotney remains on the board and intends to do so until this term expires in 2013.
Dial and Laird in their suit cite a section of the legislation that created the Economic Development Council that states: "a consensus of the state legislative delegation for the county shall appoint two members for initial terms of four years." They argue that Benefield's appointment did not constitute a consensus of the legislative delegation since Laird, who was serving at the time, was not a party to the appointment and, in fact, was not aware of it at the time.
The court filing seeks a ruling that the term of Jerry Cotney has ended and that Jeffery Nolen is lawfully appointed as provided by law.
Cotney announced at Monday evening's meeting of the Economic Development Council that he has retained attorney Greg Varner to represent him in this action.