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Brown wants controversial elections board change rescinded

Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown is hoping to rescind a controversial resolution passed by the commission last month that would give the county commission the ability to veto any appointee made by either political party to the Fayette County Board of Elections.

The final say, however, may rest with state legislators who have the ability to either change the law or leave it as is.

Currently, the county commission appoints one member of the elections board, while the Republican and Democratic parties also appoint one member each of their own choosing.

But there are worries that giving the county commission a veto power would give the all-Republican commission the upper hand on the Democratic party specifically, a concern aired last month by Commissioner Eric Maxwell, a Republican who voted against the measure.

In an email to County Manager Jack Krakeel, Brown claims that since the matter wasn’t vetted at a workshop meeting per county policy, it “should be declared null and void.”

“In my estimation, the changes to the Board of Elections and Voter Registration requested by the previous Board of Commissioners is designed to tighten the grip of our local commissioners, three up for election in 2012, over local elections, destroying the accountability that ensures fair and impartial elections,” Brown wrote in the email.

The resolution was approved by commissioners Jack Smith, Robert Horgan and Herb Frady; commissioner Lee Hearn was absent.

The proposal drew Maxwell’s ire, as he pointed out prior to the vote how the switch would allow the Republicans on the county commission “to look over the shoulder of the Democratic Party, saying whether we want to have that person or not.”

This week Brown said he was concerned about the ramifications of a scenario that allows the commission to interfere with the administration of impartial elections.

The final say on the change will come at the state legislature, as the change sought by the commission requires a change to the enabling legislation that created the elections board, which is charged with supervising elections in Fayette County.

Brown said he was also concerned about the way the resolution was handled, since it did not follow the county policy that requires significant new matters to be hashed out in a monthly workshop meeting before appearing on an agenda for consideration.

“It wasn’t formally approved under the process it is mandated that it would follow,” Brown said.

Brown said he is hoping to have the resolution rescinded instead of bringing it back to the county’s next workshop meeting, but he acknowledged that he might not even prevail in the effort, perhaps losing on a 3-2 vote as fellow commissioner Allen McCarty is also likely to vote against the resolution.

“Allen and I both know they were trying to do much of the things they wanted to do before we got in office,” said Brown. “I think that was a last hurrah to cram that in real quick before we got in office.”



Citizen Bob's picture

I read The Citizen article, the Dec 9th minutes, the agenda package, and listened to the playback (via the county's website), and see no explanation of:

- What's wrong with the current procedure
- Why we need the resolution and how it will remedy any perceived problems
- Who brought up the issue, and in what forum (a matter that requires GA General Assembly approval should have been discussed in the working meeting)
- Why the approving commissioners thought it would be legally sufficient when one of their own (who's an attorney and former judge) didn't

The whole matter is such an obvious affront to what we consider "fair play" in government, regardless of political party or personality, that it needs to be resinded.

R.J. Ross

I agree with Brown on this. This is just the latest (and hopefully the last) instance of the Commission not following the rules. It needs to at least be looked at.

If I'm reading this right it's Brown, Maxwell and McCarty against Smith, Frady and Horgan on the Board of Elections deal. Whoa baby!!! That makes Hearn the limp noodle in the middle.

It kind of makes you feel sorry for Jack Smith having to side with the pot smoker and demented new chairman.

Hearn wasn't at the meeting and we don't know his position. I agree with Brown & Maxwell on this one.

birdman's picture

Steve, you are right in this issue. Good job. I still think your real agenda will crop up, and I think I know part of it, that is your desire to be Chairman and then cram your real agenda down our throats (sort of like what you accuse the current council of doing). But I said I'd give you credit when you deserve it, and if your ambition means good decisions then so be it. You deserve credit on this issue. I don't know why the commission voted as they did other than your reasoning. Hope you keep it up.

ginga1414's picture

Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine myself saying there is an issue where Eric Maxwell and I agree. However, I'm saying it here.

I agreed with Maxwell when he first opposed the elections dictatorship on Dec. 9th and was very encouraged that he stood against the other commissioners.

It is just one more example of many power plays that have taken place in Fayette County over the years. It would be very interesting to know exactly which commissioner conceived this biased plan for running elections here.

No single party Board of Commissioners should be empowered to systematically exclude any members they wish who belong to the opposing party.

Diversity keeps everyone honest. The proposal is so ridiculously transparent, I just have to ask; what were they thinking?

This was conceived by Jack Krakeel, the sixth commissioner, who now controls the entire county. Just another of his actions to have complete power over everyone. When did he get elected?

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