Commissioners approve first elections director

By Billy Corriher

After two weeks of uncertainty, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners finally approved Annie Bright to be the county's first elections director.

"I'm glad it's over," Bright said after the commissioners approved her at their meeting on Tuesday. "I'm looking forward to starting on the next election."

Bright, the nominee of the county elections board, has worked for eight years in the county's voter registration office. Since Interim Elections Director Sonja Casey was installed last summer, Bright has organized elections and trained poll workers.

The commissioners were scheduled to vote on Bright's appointment at its last meeting, but decided instead to meet with the elections board before taking a vote. At the meeting, Commissioners Crandle Bray and Gerald Matthews criticized the elections board for in-fighting and lack of communication.

Matthews and Commissioner Charley Griswell voted against Bright's appointment Tuesday, questioning the board's methods and asking board members why they did not consider Casey, who also applied for the job and had more experience with county elections.

"I just don't think the (elections) board handled this position the way they should have," Griswell said. "It concerns me that we've got an employee (Casey) who's been there for 10 years and they're asking us to throw her out on the street."

Griswell said he wasn't questioning Bright's qualifications, just the fact that the elections board didn't consider Casey, a long-time employee.

"This is sending a message to our employees," he said.

But Bray said the county needs to move on and start preparing for the March primary elections. After Griswell questioned Casey's future with the county, Bray said, "I'm going to find a place for her to go."

Bright said she wasn't sure if Casey would continue to work under her but said, "I wish the best for her."

Casey did not want to comment on the board's decision or her future with the county.

The commissioners also approved an agreement with Waffle House, Inc., to lease the old Riverdale Library property on Ga. Highway 85. The company wants to tear down the library to build a restaurant.

Under the agreement, the company will lease the land for $1,600 a month for 10 years and will have to purchase the property sometime within that time frame.

The commissioners also decided to apply to the Department of Natural Resources for funding to repair the dams at Reynolds Nature Preserve. Bray said the county could face state fines if the dams are not repaired.