Michael Lee named ports authority board chair


Wilmington lawyer Michael Lee will replace Danny McComas as chair of the N.C. State Ports Authority Board of Directors.

Lee’s previous post as vice chair will be filled by Robert Sar.

Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Lee and Sar following McComas’ April 2 resignation. Lee and Sar will assume their new roles during the regularly scheduled April 24 meeting.

Lee said he was surprised and flattered by the opportunity to continue working to develop the state’s ports.

“[Ports] end up being a conduit to the rest of the world for products developed, manufactured or sold in North Carolina. … The opportunities for jobs and economic development are significant because we are a state with ports,” Lee said during an April 28 interview.

Lee said the board is primed to do important work in 2014.

“Right now we have a great opportunity, because we have a lot of fresh ideas on the board. We have a new, experienced CEO with credibility in the industry. We have a very engaged secretary of transportation,” Lee said.

He said the board is using the influx of ideas and talent to create a strategic plan that complements the governor’s 25-year infrastructure plan.

“It’s a really exciting time to be part of this organization. I know a lot of people might think that sounds nerdy, but there are some really incredible things going on,” Lee said.

For that reason, he said it would be bittersweet if he won the N.C. Senate District 9 seat in November because he would likely resign from his appointment as chair due to a conflict of interest.

“I really enjoy the work we’ve done on the ports [board]and I look forward to the next six to eight months to make as much of a difference as I possible can… [but]being in Senate, I think I could continue to work with the ports in a very positive way,” Lee said.

Lee ran for the seat in 2010, when he lost to Sen. Thom Goolsby in the Republican primary.

Lee has secured endorsements by Goolsby as well New Hanover County Representatives Rick Catlin, R-District 20, and Ted Davis Jr., R-District 19. His predecessor at the ports authority board, former representative Danny McComas, has also endorsed his candidacy.

Lee said McComas has been a source of guidance.

“He has a wealth of knowledge and experience not only within the ports industry but also in the legislature. He has been a great resource to talk about a lot of things… [including]the interrelationship between the legislature and the North Carolina ports,” Lee said.

Lee was appointed to the authority board by N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger in 2011 and appointed vice chair in 2013.

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