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Anyone who wants to serve on the North Carolina State Banking Commission may have a better shot in the next few months than ever before.

Ray GraceNorth Carolina Commissioner of Banks

Ray Grace

Eleven of 14 appointed positions are rolling off as of April 1, a quirky situation that developed after state lawmakers combined the regulatory agencies overseeing the state’s banks and savings institutions in 2012, Banking Commissioner Ray Grace says.

Gov. Roy Cooper is allowed to make 12 of the 14 picks, while Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger each get one selection. Eight of the 14 members are classified as “public members,” while five are “practical bankers” and one represents consumer-finance companies. State Treasurer Dale Folwell is chairman of the commission, essentially the 15th member. Existing members serve until replaced, Grace says.

The commission meets five or six times a year and oversees regulatory matters, including new bank applications. There haven’t been any of the latter in more than five years because no North Carolina group has emerged in an era of low interest rates and increased regulation spurred by the 2007-09 financial crisis. Higher rates and Trump administration efforts to scale back regulation could lead to some new starts, Grace and others say.

The commission has long included some of the state’s more successful bankers. Among those slated to roll off on April 1 are Jim Bolt, former CEO of Charlotte-based First Trust Bank, which was acquired by BNC Bancorp in 2012; Pressley Ridgill, the former CEO of Greensboro-based NewBridge Bancorp, which was acquired last year by Yadkin Financial Corp.; and lawyer Johnathan Rhyne Jr., a former state lawmaker who chairs Carolina Trust BancShares Inc., a Lincolnton-based community bank.

Separately, Grace says three commission bank examiners are retiring this week after long tenures. Larry Batts has worked at the agency for 31 years; Mary Kane, 27; and Garrie Garrison, 10 (after 30 years at Wachovia Bank.)

“Pretty amazing coincidence that folks named Larry, Mary and Garrie are each retiring on the same day,” Grace says.

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