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Board votes to remove Berger as NHC commissioner

New Hanover County

Brian Berger is no longer a New Hanover County Commissioner. The board voted 3-to-2 to remove Berger during an amotion hearing yesterday, with Berger and Commissioner Jonathan Barfield dissenting.

The board heard arguments for and against removing Berger from office. The reasons for removal stretch from absences and tardiness, to accusations of delusional behavior and domestic disturbances. But the largest issue the board took up with Berger is concern over the personal safety of county employees, citing written threats in the form of emails and text messages.

Berger chose not to testify, but he did speak during the comment period prior to the vote. He said the alleged written threats refer to his own personal safety.

“It’s very clear that I’m talking fears about my own safety and the safety of those close to me, not in any way, shape, or form anything even remotely threatening anybody else in any manner whatsoever.”

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said he agrees Berger should no longer serve on the board. But his issue is with the process of how Berger is being removed. Barfield said it’s something that will legally come back to bite the county in the foot.

“But I can know from past conversations that in my opinion, there was a foregone conclusion before we got here of what was going to happen on this day. Be that as it may, as I’ve said before, I’m not in agreement of this process, but I am in agreement that Mr. Berger needs to step down off of this board and continue life in some other form, shape or fashion.”

Frayda Bluestein with the UNC School of Government says while the amotion process is recognized by state law, it’s unclear whether local governments have authority to use it. Bluestein says yesterday may be a test case for North Carolina.