Commissioners postpone action on elections director

By Billy Corriher

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners decided not to act on the elections board's recommendation of Annie Bright as the county's first elections director. Rather than confirm Bright at their Tuesday night meeting, the commissioners decided to meet with the elections board before making a decision.

The Board of Elections unanimously selected Bright at its Dec. 29 meeting from a list of 21 applicants. Bright has worked in the county's Elections and Registration office for eight years.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Crandle Bray suggested the meeting after Commissioner Charley Griswell said he wanted to study the selection further.

"I've got some problems with it ? because (the elections board) didn't interview anyone else," Griswell said, adding that he was not questioning Bright's qualifications, just the board's methods.

Commissioner Virginia Gray originally moved to approve the election board's recommendation, but her motion died when it was not seconded.

Roberta Abdul-Salaam, elections board chairwoman, said she suggested an interview process, but was outvoted 4-1 in favor of selecting Bright immediately.

But Abdul-Salaam said she was satisfied with meeting to discuss the issue further, and she said support for Bright was solid.

Elections board consultant Ann Smith worked on county elections under former Probate Judge Eugene Lawson and has worked with Bright and Sonja Casey, another candidate for elections director, since Lawson retired.

"I was very pleased with the board's selection," Smith said. "(Bright) has proven to me during the last two elections that she can do the job."

Bright and Casey, the interim elections director, have overseen county elections since Lawson retired this summer. Bright has supervised elections, worked with poll coordinators and organized training sessions for poll workers.

Bright said she did not want to comment on the elections board's decision until the commissioners confirmed the recommendation.

Bray said he also supported Bright, but he thought having a joint meeting would erase any doubts, and would not leave either party with the final responsibility of approving the new director.

"All 10 of us (the elections board and commissioners) ought to be sitting down and talking about our options," he said.

The board and commissioners have not worked out a date yet, but Bray said getting a director in place soon is important because the county is holding the presidential preference primary in March.

The commissioners also appointed Lou Hisel to the county's Development Authority and Helen Meadows to the Civil Service Board. Both positions were vacant because the former board members moved out of the county.