WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Embattled New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger has lost his seat on the board.
County Commissioners voted 3-2 for a petition of amotion against Berger to remove the Republican from office. Berger and Commissioner Jonathan Barfield voted against the petition.
Berger said a lot of what was said during the hearing was “excruciatingly dishonest.”
“I take the work up here very seriously,” Berger said. “More seriously than I take my own well-being.”
Berger’s attorney Chris Anglin called just two witnesses during the hearing: Clerk to the Commission Sheila Schult and citizen Carolyn Bordeaux, who is a friend and supporter of Berger. At one time, Anglin asked Bordeaux if she knew Berger had been diagnosed with autism, to which she said, “Yes.”
Anglin said Berger would take the stand in his own defense, but after a break in the hearing, the commissioner did not testify.
At times, the quasi-judicial hearing became confrontational, as Commission Chairman Woody White and Anglin debated legal issues, which the two clearly did not agree on.
At the start of the hearing, Barfield said he was washing his hands of the process. He raised concerns about the board taking the wrong course of action. Later he said he worried that the commission’s decision would draw out in the courts past the Nov. 2014 election, when Berger is up for reelection and cost the county’s taxpayers a lot of money. Barfield, who, as chairman, called for Berger’s resignation in 2011, said the process will come back “to bite the county in the foot and everywhere else.”
Commission Vice Chair Beth Dawson said commissioner came to the hearing without any preconceived judgements. She said her main reason for wanting Berger out was the claims of harassment and concerns for safety and security from county staff. Berger denied he’s ever threatened anyone. She also said she wished Berger had resigned and gotten the help he needed so the county would have five commissioners representing its residents.
Berger said the amotion proceedings were rigged. He went as far as to say his replacement was picked months ago, but he would not say who it is.
“I’m not perfect, but what the board is doing is wrong,” Berger said, who also made it clear he plans to take the situation to court.
Commissioner Thomas Wolfe says in his experience as a business leader, he would never allow the kind of behavior Berger has displayed to happen in a private corporation. He said regardless of the eventual outcome of the process in the courts, some times you have to stand up and do what’s right.
White said he came to the meeting with an open mind. He said he had hoped he would learn during the hearing that Berger was under the care of a doctor, but he said he did not hear that.