William Perugino was appointed to fill an unexpired term for the Republican Party seat on the Board of Elections and Registration at the Newton County Board of Commissioner's meeting on Tuesday night.
Perugino replaces board member Stanley Edwards who resigned as the GOP representative on Aug. 24. Edwards' term was supposed to expire in 2014.
Edwards, who said he has been involved with the elections board since 1976, said he decided to step down to take a rest. He said he has enjoyed working with the office and will continue to volunteer.
"You couldn't ask for anyone better with Hugh Steele as chairman and Jeanette Perry, [as] a Democrat representative; Angela and Donna all of them have been terrific," Edwards said. "They are great folks. They don't even get the credit they deserve.
That's a tough office. I'm going to go ahead and help them with absentees during the presidential election," he said.During the meeting, Commissioner Tim Fleming thanked Edwards for serving on the elections board.
"I'd like to thank Mr. Stanley Edwards for his many, many years of service to this county and the Newton County Board of Elections," Fleming said. "He's done an outstanding job and we hate to lose him on that board."
After the board approved the appointment, Commissioner Nancy Schulz thanked Edwards for his dedication to the board but expressed her concern for fairness to continue as Perugino took office as the new Republican representative.
"I think it goes without saying that all of us appreciate the services of Mr. Edwards and he served this community with a sense of reason and fairness," Schulz said. "I know that Mr. Perugino has in the past written some passionate and sometimes inflammatory comments in The Covington News and I would hope that we'd encourage him to ensure fair elections for all voters and protect the rights for all voters regardless of the political persuasion."
The News contacted Perugino about his appointment to the board. He said he was looking forward to serving and he would be fair while serving as a board member.
"I'm looking forward to serving the board and having the unique opportunity to oversea this presidential election, which of course would be a unique occasion," Perugino said.
"I'm a constitutionalists, I'm a Vietnam war vet, I served two terms in Iraq, I'm an eagle scout, I consider myself a patriot for things that are a priority for me or of course our Constitution and the fairness that that brings to all of us," he said. "Those are very important things to me and I will certainly serve on the board of elections to ensure that that happens," Perugino said.
Commissioner J.C. Henderson asked commissioners and Jenny Carter with the County Attorney's Office about the composition of the elections board. He said he remembered there being five members on the board, one for each commissioner member. He provided The News with a copy of the documentation to which he was referring to.
However, Carter said the board approved three-members and it was signed into legislation by the Georgia General Assembly.
"That was created by a special local act with the Georgia Assembly so in order to change the composition of that board there will need to be an amendment to that local legislation," Carter said. "It wasn't a county ordinance. It was a local act that setup the procedure that's now in place."
In addition, The News spoke with county clerk Jackie Smith to look into whether or not the board had discussions about having a five-member board. She said in November 1997 commissioners discussed having a five-members on the board at first, but then approved a three-member board at their second meeting that month.
According to bill SB 687 from the Georgia House of Representatives which was signed into legislation in 1998 and created the board of elections and registration for Newton County, section 2-1-31 to 2-1-32 (a) said the board shall be composed of three members, each of whom shall be an elector and resident of Newton County.