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Contentious elections board meeting reviews bylaws
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In a Rockdale County Board of Elections meeting that lasted around four hours on Tuesday, the board approved its bylaws.

After a 10-15 minute executive session to begin the monthly regular meeting, the board opened up discussion to public response.

Foreshadowing a discussion-filled meeting two of the five speakers were Don Williamson of the Rockdale Republican Party and Fred Whitt of the Rockdale Democratic Party.

“One of the things that has gone on, while I agree that some of the view of the bylaws and so forth may have been necessary, we have reviewed them and we got timely updates from our representative to executive committee we were able to do this and get this done over conference call and through meetings, Williamson said. “We found the time out of our schedule to do this and I think that the democratic party I wish had been a little further a little harder to make the effort in the reviewing the bylaws.”

Whitt quickly answered back with, “The democratic party, out of our five member executive board we appointed four of our five new members in December, which means the new board took over in January. And as any new board it took months to get everything under our belt and get going now we’re going we will be ready.”

Following that and the approval of minutes, the board got into reviewing a draft of the bylaws. Each article was reviewed section by section, with each eventually getting approved.

The biggest stalemates came on the topic of the at-large or third-party appointee. The democratic representative Garvin Haynes, Jr.  is currently serving as chairman.Lynn Brown, the republican representative, is pushing for Carey Bond, the newly appointed third member, to be the chairman.

In section 4.2, which addresses the failure to appoint a position, Bond and Brown voted to approve the section after two parts were removed. The two parts pertained to the failure to appoint an at-large member and failure to select final candidates for interview of at large-member position. The proposed section 4.2 B said that if an at-large seat wasn’t filled within 15 days that the member was to take office, “such vacancy shall be filled by the Chief Judge of the Rockdale Judicial Circuit. The Chief Judge of the Rockdale Judicial Circuit shall name one of the two finalists selected by the Board of Election and Registration members based on the applications submitted by each candidate during the interview process for the At-Large seat on the board, along with each of the Partisan Board Member’s recommended candidate’s name.”

Haynes wanted the wording left in, feeling it would keep the At-Large member from being constantly re-voted back in.
“The point being, that goes to show that enabling act has its own problems,” Haynes said. “And this was an attempted solution of that. However one big probably of enabling act and this is why I think public input needs to be there. By taking this out without addressing the other sections in the bylaws would in essence make the current at large member an at large member for life. Now, is that what the public wants?”

Haynes ultimately abstained from the approval of the article with the two sections removed as an amendment.
The board decided to amend another part of the bylaws dealing with the at-large member in Section 4.9, procedures for filling unexpired term vacancies.

The original wording said that a position should be filled within 60 days of a vacancy, but was changed to 90.
The issue of the at-large member being “at at-large member for life” came up again later in the discussion.
When the topic of election of officers came up, Haynes was again adamant about the length of the time for the at-large member to serve as chairman. The bylaws state in Section 5.1 that “effective July 1, 2011, the chair of the Board of Elections shall be the At-Large member. Such At-Large member shall serve for a two year term running from July 1 to June 30, or until a successor is elected.”

The statement goes on to say, “The Board shall a 1st Vice Chair and 2nd Vice Chair for a two year term running from July 1 to June 30 or until a successor is elected. Active Board members may nominate themselves.”

Haynes did not want the legislation to go through saying, that if it was a gridlock, Brown and Bond would keep Bond in.
“I believe the independent should be the chair,” Brown said. “The independent is a non-partisan person.”

Haynes, replied, “A true, nonpartisan person.”

Brown said, “Again you’re casting dispersions of Mr. Bond, a true independent."

Brown and Haynes went back and forth on the issue until Brown and Bond voted for it and Haynes voted against it.

The three finally went through a draft of the bylaws which they will look to enact in the April 5 meeting.