Wayne Nixon approved as next Cabarrus County Register of Deeds
Dec 26, 2012 (Independent Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
CONCORD, N.C. -- Concord attorney Wayne Nixon will officially become Cabarrus County Register of Deeds Feb. 1 after Cabarrus commissioners approved his bond Wednesday.
Nixon's bond was approved by a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Larry Burrage voting "no."
Cabarrus County's bonding agency Penn National issued a $50,000 bond for Nixon Monday after application was made Friday.
"We asked every question we could think of and he answered them all," Cabarrus County Manager Mike Downs told commissioners after Cabarrus County Republican Party Chairman John Lewis presented Nixon as the party's nominee.
Ben Small was elected in November in a close race with Deputy Register of Deeds Melissa Lilly, but has been unable to take office because of bonding issues.
Cabarrus County's normal bonding agency, Penn National, declined to bond Small, whose law license was suspended by the N.C. State Bar in July.
Burrage said he had nothing against Nixon but believed approving the bond so he could take office would violate his oath to uphold the Constitution, which provides for voters to choose the register of deeds.
Commissioners took the vote after a short closed session to discuss personnel issues with Nixon and county attorney Rich Koch.
The bond for Nixon is one year, renewable each year. Commissioners asked Koch if that was acceptable since the office was for four years. Koch said since the county is required to review the bond annually by law then it would be acceptable.
After the vote, Chairperson Liz Poole said Nixon would be paid a salary of $70,272.34 and would be sworn in Feb. 1.
Earlier this year, commissioners set the starting salary for the position of register of deeds at $58,100.91.
Nixon told the county he needed 30 days to wrap up affairs with his legal practice.
Failure to approve Small's bond has prompted criticism of commissioners by some, including during the Dec. 19th meeting when Poole had to call the meeting back to order several times after people in the audience voiced their displeasure.
Small presented three different $50,000 bonds to commissioners. The first from CNA-Western Surety had technical errors, according to county attorney Rich Koch. The other bonds, one from Liberty Mutual and one from State Farm, were rejected by commissioners by 4-1 votes. Burrage opposed the denials and also opposed the Dec. 3 vote by the same margin that vacated the office. Commissioners expressed concern that those bonds might be withdrawn if the agencies did not know of the law license suspension and previous bond denial by Penn National.
Nixon, 61, is a native of Concord and has practiced law in Cabarrus County since 1978. He was an assistant district attorney from 1978 to 1981 after being graduating from Wake Forest University Law School and being admitted to the N.C. State Bar in 1977. He has been in private practice since 1981.
During discussions with commissioners Wednesday, Nixon said he is in good standing with the N.C. State Bar and has never had disciplinary actions.
Nixon is rated AV in peer reviews by Martindale-Hubble, which is the highest possible for confidence and ethics.
Contact Mark Plemmons at 704-789-9140.
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