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New elections board members appointed

Josh Tippens 1

  Pickens County Board of Elections Chair Josh Tippens.

 

At their June meeting, Pickens County commissioners appointed five members to the Pickens Board of Elections, with those positions to go into effect July 1. 

The new appointments came after state legislators made changes to the way board members are selected. Earlier this year, incoming Commission Chair Kris Stancil requested House Rep. Rick Jasperse review the county’s boards that operate under state statute. Jasperse and the General Assembly Legislative Counsel found issue with the elections board procedures and introduced legislation to change the appointment process. That legislation was eventually signed by the governor. 

Under the old system, the local Democratic and Republican parties selected two members each to serve on the elections board. Those four members would then select and appoint a board chair. Under the new system, those two parties submit a list of four candidates each to the board of commissioners who appoint two from each list. The board of commissioners also appoints a non-partisan chair. 

The new board of elections will meet soon to begin discussions to hire a new elections supervisor. Former Elections Supervisor Julianne Roberts quit abruptly in April over issues she saw with the new appointment process. She felt like efforts to reorganize the board were mostly political, and had problems with the fact that the new legislation would remove her from her position and require her to reapply. Roberts also felt she was being blamed for problems with the November 2020 elections that relate to the condition of the elections office on Pioneer Road.  

Last week commissioners appointed Josh Tippens as board chair. Mike Carver and Tracey Wright were appointed as two representatives from the local Republican party; Rebecca Cantrell and Barbara Ledom-Balducci were appointed as the two representatives from the local Democratic party. 

The chair, Tippens, graduated from Pickens High School in 2002, and later from Appalachian Tech. He has worked with Windstream Communications since 2005 in a variety of roles, currently as the operations manager in the Canton/Jasper market. His wife teaches at Hill City Elementary and they have three children. 

“I was very humbled and honored to be asked to serve as the chairman of the Pickens County Board of Elections,” Tippens said in a prepared statement. “This was not a position I sought, but at the request of the Board of Commissioners, and upon seeing the need I am very excited to begin the work of rebuilding the confidence and trust of the residents of Pickens County where our elections are concerned. The right to vote is the cornerstone of a free and democratic society; and each individual voter should feel that their voice is not only heard, but matters.

“The board’s first order of business will be to hire a new election supervisor and review the existing by-laws of the old board to see if any revisions or updates are needed in advance of the upcoming municipal elections.

“I would like to ask everyone for patience while we work through this transition. We have a whole new board and will be hiring a brand new elections supervisor. I expect growing pains and minor setbacks as we move forward, but please know that we will be working diligently to streamline the elections office and improve the voting experience for everyone.”

In a later interview, Kris Stancil said the county began collecting applications for the elections supervisor position a few weeks ago, and had received three at the time of the interview.