0

Rockdale Election Board members tossed out by judge

CONYERS -- Lynn Brown and Garvin Haynes were removed Friday from the county Board of Elections by Rockdale County Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation. Neither are eligible for reappointment to the board.

Nation rendered his decision after hearing testimony from all three members, including at-large member Cary Bond. In giving his decision in the courtroom, Nation made note of Friday being Veterans Day.

"This is not a purely partisan position," Nation said. "They've been entrusted with something that -- and today's Veterans Day -- something that thousands of people have died for."

Nation said both parties' "misbehaved" in order to gain political power.

"I know this is a political issue and I wish the court didn't find itself in a political issue," he said. "The words Ms. Brown spoke (of Haynes) were pretty accurate: 'He was willing to die on the hill. And I think that's pretty accurate for both of them."

Nation said he hoped the county's Democratic and Republican parties would removed the word "representative" from their next board appointments.

"I hope everybody has learned a little lesson from this," Nation said. "That board belongs to the people."

Nation said before hearing testimony he was trying to determine whether the members of the Board of Elections were putting party politics over the public good.

"I want to see if you are appointed as a representative of the party," Nation said. "Are they appointed as members of the political party or are they appointed to serve as a member of the board? Is that inconsistent with the oath they take?"

During testimony, Haynes' attorney, Harger Hoyt, asked Brown, the board's Republican member, if she supported Bond's at-large appointment for party reasons.

Brown said she did not know what the Republican party thought of Bond.

"I feel like he is the best person," she said. "I was not ever given a true, concrete reason of why Mr. Haynes seemed to find Mr. Bond so abhorred."

Haynes, the board's Democratic member, denied that he had played party politics as a member.

"All of the decisions I've made have been taking in mind all of the best interests of Rockdale County," Haynes said.

Nation disagreed.

"I think what they fail to see is it's not their job to act as a force for their party -- it's their job to act as a member of the board," he said.

Nation said both Haynes and Brown had prevented the operations of the Board of Elections: Brown by refusing to consider any candidates for the at-large position other than Bond, and Haynes for "filibustering" the board.

"They're behaving like political representatives," Nation said.