Commission requests to drop Republican, Democratic elections board members

Asia Ashley and Matthew Strother Daily News staff

February 18, 2014

County Commissioners voted Tuesday to request the elimination of the local Republican and Democratic parties’ nominations to the Board of Elections and Registration.

The move will drop the board from seven members to five, which commissioners said was more consistent with other elections boards in the state. County Manager Tod Tentler said the positions shouldn’t be eliminated immediately, since an election period is upcoming, but wasn’t sure if the appointees would complete their appointed terms.

The Democratic appointee is Lonnie Hollis and Republican appointee is Ellen Gilmore. Gilmore was appointed to a term that expires at the end of this year and Hollis’ term expires in 2015.

Gilmore had been under fire in May for emails between her and Probate Judge Donald Boyd that commissioners stated undermined the board’s credibility. However, Commission Chairman Ricky Wolfe told the Daily News this morning that “this is not about Ellen Gilmore at all – zero, none.”

Wolfe said commissioners felt that the two partisan positions didn’t add anything constructive to the Board of Elections and Registrations’ process.

“There are two positions on that board that are partisan, and we’re asking to remove them because we don’t believe that it adds any validity or credibiltiy to the elections process,” Wolfe said.

Commissioners requested Tentler to further review the structure of the Board of Elections. Tentler said the County attorney’s office will handle writing the proposed changes to the local legislation, which must be done and submitted within 30 days into the state legislative session. Any changes then must be approved by state lawmakers to take effect.

Commissioner Tripp Foster was the only opposed to the motion.

Commissioners also tabled BOER members’ request for compensation for serving on the board, asking for more time to consider an appropriate rate.