Elections board makes recommendation to county

By Billy Corriher

The newly formed Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration has made their pick for the county's new elections director, but has refused to say who that person is.

In a closed session Monday night, the board chose one applicant out of 21 to send to the board of commissioners for approval. And, although board members said they confirmed the choice was confirmed in open session, board members declined to comment on who was chosen.

Board member Bob Bolia said the board voted to not say who the choice is in case the commissioners vetoed the choice.

"We want to make sure nobody's hurt or upset," he said.

Bolia said members came to the meeting, after having reviewed the 21 applications received, with their top choices. The members then compared and discussed the lists and made a unanimous decision.

Bolia said he supported two candidates coming into the meeting, and another member had one in mind.

Board member George Sligh, throughout the selection process, has advocated installing the interim Elections Director, Sonja Casey, the county's former registration director, as the permanent elections director. Casey's assistant, Annie Bright, has also applied for the director position.

Sligh said that if the commissioners do not agree with the board's recommendation, then the board will review the candidates again and make another selection.

Board chairwoman Roberta Abdul-Salaam said she was "not at liberty" to discuss the choice until the commissioners made their decision. She said the board plans to send a letter informing them of their choice today.

Board member Arthur Thompson also refused to comment on the board's choice and board member Ruth Ashe did not respond to a request for a comment.

Retired Probate Judge Eugene Lawson, who used to oversee county elections until his retirement, said, "Anything having to do with the operations of elections should be open to the public." But Lawson said the board had a legitimate reason to withhold the name of their recommended director.

"They're just conditioning (release of the name) on reporting it to the commission," he said. Lawson was involved with drafting the General Assembly act that established the board and the elections director position in July.

The board and the director position were created after Lawson retired and insisted his predecessor not have to deal with elections in the growing county.