Once Lee qualifies, he will be automatically removed from his seat and an interim commissioner can take his place. If Lee had decided to resign prior to qualifying next week, the board would have be left with only three commissioners until the July 20 special election, in which the remainder of Lee's term, which ends in December, would been up for election. The chairman seat will be elected during the July 20 election.
"In looking at the business of the county that's being done and what's best for District 3, I thought it was best to provide representation for the community and allow business to continue as normal as possible," Lee said.
Lee said he will qualify on April 13, after the Board of Commissioners' meeting.
"I'll be at the meeting, then probably go to the bank and head out to qualify. I just felt it would be best to be there for the meeting, then qualify," Lee said.
Qualification for the July 20 election begins Monday morning and ends Wednesday, April 14. Lee has no known challengers for the chairman position.
Commissioner Woody Thompson, who is also now serving as interim chairman after former Chairman Sam Olens resigned last Thursday to run for the state's attorney general, announced Monday that the board will appoint former commissioner Thea Powell to take Lee's place until the Nov. 2 election. During that election, voters will decide who will serve as District 3 commissioner from November until December 31, when Lee's term expires, as well as who will take over on the new term beginning January 1.
Powell was a commissioner from 1987 to 1990 and said she will not seek election in November.
"I think she'll be great," Lee said. "Mechanically, she's there. It won't take her long to get in there and be familiar with everything. She's a very independent thinker, and will represent the district and county's interests well."
Commissioner Bob Ott said the board will likely appoint Powell during the board's April 27 meeting, and that she would be sworn in shortly thereafter.
Thompson said he and the remaining commissioners, Ott and Helen Goreham, were "absolutely" pleased that Lee was taking action that would allow them to appoint someone in his place.
"I appreciate Commissioner Lee for handling all of this the way he has because it shows he has the best interests in mind of not only his district, but also the county and the rest of us on the board," Thompson said. "Had he not decided to do this, there would have been only three of us on the board for three months, and if someone was out sick, we couldn't have a meeting, much less vote on anything. We're also happy to have someone like Thea to step in when he leaves, because she's sharp and will have a quick learning curve."