County many still ask for legislation

BY RAY LIGHTNER STAFF WRITER RAY@GRIFFINDAILYNEWS.COM

The Spalding County Board of Commissioners are scheduled to consider requesting local legislation to clarify supervision of the elections supervisor.

The matter is on the agenda for Monday’s meeting as it was left on the table at the last meeting by at 3-2 vote of the board to give the Board of Elections more time to consider it. The Board of Elections voted 3-1-1 to leave supervision as it is, with them.

Board of Elections member Glenda Henley made the motion to retain supervision, seconded by Vice Chairman Margaret Bentley, and member Ballard Brooks, also voting with them. Chairman Betty Bryant was opposed and new member Randy Gooden abstained, saying the current legislation is too confusing.

In a letter to the County Manager William Wilson, Gooden proposed some changes, putting supervision with the county manager as with any other county department head, but with hiring, firing and discipline at the consent of the Board of Elections.

He and other members shared concerns about a person supervised by elected officials supervising the elections supervisor.

“To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, it’s best the Board of Elections oversee the elections supervisor,” Gooden said at the Board of Elections meeting, adding that “discipline, hiring and firing by the county manager be done with the consent of the Board of Elections.”

Bentley pointed out “the county manager is already in charge of budgets, financials. The county is responsible for providing space and all that we have no part in.”

Gooden wanted it “better defined in writing,” with a “tightening or the wording.” Bryant also asked that it be better clarified.

The matter of supervision first came up following the November city elections, with concerns by candidates about voters not in the right districts going to Elections Supervisor Marcia Ridley and then to the state. Three employees also voiced concerns about Ridley’s management of the office and later resigned as did long-time Board of Elections Chairman Helen Grayson.

Ridley said at the time she did not know who she reported to, Wilson or Grayson, and was concerned that staff members were going to Grayson and not her.

Wilson asked for an opinion from legislative counsel on the legislation that created the Board of Elections and Voter Registration and based on that, it was the Board of Elections who supervises the election superintendent, while also noting it could be better clarified and suggested changes to do so or change it.

In a Feb. 13 memo from County Attorney Jim Fortune, he suggested one change, leaving the rest of the legislation as is. The proposed change to Section 12, subparagraph (a) of the legislation would strike it in its entirety and insert in lieu thereof a new subparagraph (a) to read as follows:

“There shall be an administrative director, to be known as the elections supervisor to administer and supervise conduct of elections, primaries, and registration of electors for the county. The Board, within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this act, or of the date of any vacancy of such position, submit one to three names of qualified individuals to the county manager who shall hire and/or appoint an elections supervisor from a job description drawn by said board. The elections supervisor shall be a county employee, subject to the provisions of the Personnel Policy in Spalding County and shall report directly to the county manager.”

Also on Monday’s agenda, the commissioners are scheduled to:

• Consider approval on second reading an ordinance establishing a 25 miles per hour speed limit on Coe Drive.

• Consider approval of revised Training Reimbursement Agreement for county employees.

• Consider approval of a resolution establishing a Griffin+Spalding Adopt-A-Mile Committee.

• Consider approval on first reading an ordinance amending the FY 2018 budget to provide for prior year encumberances.

• Consider approval on first reading an ordinance establishing a 25 mph speed limit on Bleachery Street.

• Consider approval of agreement with Southern Crescent Technical College to provide GED courses at the Spalding County Correctional Institution.