Commentary: Floyd County Commission ignores elections board recommendation to name Vanessa Waddell chief elections clerk, cops out by reopening search.

Commentary: Floyd County Commission ignores elections board recommendation to name Vanessa Waddell chief elections clerk, cops out by reopening search.

Vanessa Waddel, interim Floyd elections chief. From Facebook.

 

In early June, the three-member Floyd County Board of Elections unanimously supported deputy elections chief and interim director Vanessa Waddell to permanently lead the office.

Following the calamity known as the 2020 election cycle — pandemic, primary delays, vote-by-mail, recounts, missing votes, the death of another key clerk, the eventual departure of the chief elections clerk and the twin U.S. Senate runoffs in January  — Waddell kept the office running, including for seven months into 2021.

Her appointment and a series of other much-needed updates to the elections office went to the Floyd County Commission for approval Tuesday evening.

Apparently the ghosts of 2020 have yet to be exorcised as Waddell’s appointment never happened. The commission, consisting of five Republicans, opted instead to reopen the search to replace Robert Brady.  That came after her supporters were told at least one commissioner was gunning to vote no. During Tuesday’s meeting, those both supporting and opposing Waddell’s appointment spoke.

Deflecting the vote by instead copping out for a new search, the commissioners disregarded the review and vetting done by the elections board, apparently buying into a steady bonfire fueled by unfounded accusations on Facebook. Some of it sounded like rhetoric from the 2021 General Assembly reforms now under federal attack.

The Rome News-Tribune, in its report, said commissioners cited “concern about the hiring process and the job description itself.” One was requiring elections experience. The job solicitation included the following:

“MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration or closely related field and 3 years of experience as a public elections and registration official or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Must possess and maintain a professional certification as an Election Official.”

Keep in mind the job was posted in public back in March as Brady was allowed to resign rather than be terminated as was originally decided (see below). If an issue, why wasn’t that cited earlier or even in June after the elections board announced its endorsement? Plus given the complexities from the 2020 campaigns and votes, why wouldn’t experience be required?

Waddell has been the most steady hand and face in the elections office for more than 20 years. She served as a deputy to the late Evon Billups, Dr. Willie Green and then  Brady. In May 2017, Waddell was recognized with a 20-year certificate of attendance from the University of Georgia’s prestigious Carl Vinson Institute of Government in Athens. Said then-Elections Board Chairman Steve Miller: “This commitment from Ms. Waddell to attend these annual meetings on such a consistent basis is indicative of her willingness to stay informed of the election responsibilities and regulations pertinent to her position, for the benefit of the Floyd County Elections office, as well as the electorate of our community.”

Her appointment was part of a reform package presented to the County Commission Tuesday evening.  The job came with an annual salary of $65,000 — almost $30,000 more than the advertised 2018 salary when Brady was hired. Also on the agenda:

  • An amendment to the Floyd County Classification and Compensation Plan to restructure the office of elections by creating two job classifications and adding  one position each in classification in the Office of Elections:  Deputy Elections Clerk, paygrade 16, non-exempt, $37,851-$47,314 hiring range; and Senior Elections Clerk, paygrade 12, non-exempt, $32,335-$40,419 hiring range
  • Consider the amendment of the Classification and Pay Plan to retitle the Elections Technician job classification, paygrade 8, non-exempt, to Elections Office Assistant and to convert the existing two fulltime positions to two parttime positions:  Two Part Time Elections Assistants, paygrade 8, non-exempt, equaling $26,791-$33,498.
  • Recommendation from the Floyd County Board of Elections to consider a budget adjustment up to $102,000 to cover the increase in salary and benefits for the Floyd County Board of Elections.

What’s next: Look for the help wanted ad to resurface. The elections board is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 10, at noon. Don’t be surprised if a called meeting is organized before them. Here’s the ad that was posted following Brady’s departure:

Job: CHIEF ELECTIONS CLERK

Job Type Board of Elections & Registration
Salary $44,774-$71,639
Government Floyd County
Published 03/24/2021
Closes 04/24/2021

Apply for this job

JOB SUMMARY:
The purpose of this position is to manage the Office of the Board of Elections to include all registration activities, election activities, and general office administration.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS:
•Manages all aspects of elections including hiring and training of poll workers, securing and staffing precincts.
•Conducts login and accuracy testing on all voting equipment.
•Directs voter registration activities, ballot preparation, election day activities, absentee voting, and election reporting.
•Maintains various records to include voter registration cards, voter lists, budget documents, etc.; verifies accuracy of entered data and makes corrections; conducts records maintenance activities in compliance with guidelines governing record retention.
•Ensures departmental compliance with Georgia election laws and all other applicable codes, laws, rules, regulations, standards, policies, and procedures; initiates actions necessary to address and correct deviations or violations.
•Develops protocols for assessing and evaluating elections processes.
•Addresses operational complaints, concerns, and irregularities.
•Forecasts, proposes, and manages the office budget.
•Manages office staff to include performance reviews, corrective actions, and related employee relations activities.
•Maintains the Board of Elections website ensuring that the information is correct and current.
•Prepares and submits all forms and reports.
•Maintains a comprehensive, current knowledge of applicable laws and regulations.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:
Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration or closely related field and 3 years of experience as a public elections and registration official or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Must possess and maintain a professional certification as an Election Official.

BENEFITS:
Health/Major Medical
Dental
Long Term Disability
Employer-Paid Pension
Paid Holidays
Paid Vacation-Annually
Paid Sick
Incentive Pay & Longevity Pay
Free Wellness Clinic

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