Elections Board to begin director search

By Billy Corriher

After some in-fighting at its last meeting, the newly formed Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration will begin its search for an elections director next week. That is when a job description will be posted by the county's personnel department.

The director, whenever he or she is hired, will be in charge of planning and overseeing all elections in Clayton County except for municipal elections, which the county will only supervise at the town's request.

The board and the new position were created in June because the former director of elections, Probate Judge Eugene Lawson, planned to retire. Since the county had grown so much in recent years, Lawson said he insisted on the county establishing a board so his predecessor would not have to deal with elections in the growing county.

Now, Clayton County will have the same kind of board system as most counties its size. Until a director is in place, however, the county's chief registrar, Sonja Casey, will serve as interim director.

Board member George Sligh actually proposed installing Casey as the permanent director of elections at both of the board's recent meetings, but the board decided to keep the position open.

Casey, who has worked with elections in Clayton County for 20 years, said she is "absolutely" interested in the job and will submit her application along with the others.

Casey also expressed concern about the situation the county is in now, saying the looming election and the lack of voters registered is a "crisis situation."

At the board's meeting last month, Sligh expressed concern about the way the county's most recent election was conducted, claiming that some members of the Board of Elections were trying to micromanage elections and exceed its intended powers.

Sligh said that during the recent runoff for the probate judge election, members of the board inappropriately stepped in and took over. "I was under the impression our intent was only to set policy and to operate in the board room," he said.

Sligh said he did not want the board tangled up in the kind of controversy that the Clayton County Board of Education has been in this year. "We don't need that in Clayton County," he said.

But Board of Elections Chair Roberta Abdul-Salaam said the board only did what it was supposed to do during the election, which was to ensure the count was conducted properly, certify the count and send it to the Georgia secretary of state office.

The board hopes to have a new director of elections approved by the County Commissioners and in charge of all county elections before the state's primary elections in March.