COVINGTON -- Stan Edwards, the Republican Party appointee to the Newton County Board of Elections, has resigned, and the party has appointed William Perugino to fulfill his unexpired term.
Edwards began his term in April 2007 and was reappointed in December 2010. His term expires at the end of 2014.
Edwards said he's been helping with local elections since 1976, when he was in charge of absentee ballots. He replaced his son Stan Edwards Jr. on the Board of Elections in 2007.
Edwards said he has numerous other commitments in the community and, "It's just time for me to be able to be footloose and fancy free for a while to do what I want to do." He has volunteered to help out during this year's general election, he said.
"It's been a great experience. The board has been nothing but nice and all the people in the Board of Elections office are the nicest people in the world. Sometimes they don't get the credit they're due," he said.
The Board of Commissioners approved the new appointment Tuesday evening. Commissioner Tim Fleming thanked Edwards for his service. "He's done an outstanding job and we hate to lose him on that board," Fleming said.
Democratic Commissioner Nancy Schulz added that, "I think it goes without saying all of us appreciate the service of Mr. Edwards. He served this community with a sense of reason and fairness."
Schulz noted that Perugino has written "inflammatory" comments in a local newspaper and said she hopes that he would be encouraged to ensure fair elections for all voters "regardless of political persuasion."
Fleming, a Republican active in the local GOP, said he has "no doubt he will be an outstanding board member of the Board of Elections. He'll be very fair to all the citizens of Newton County to protect the votes of everybody."
The Board of Elections is comprised of two members from the political parties that garnered the highest and second highest amount of votes for governor in the general election preceding the appointment of the member. In Newton, that is the Republican and Democratic parties. Each party makes the appointment for approval by the BOC. There is also an at-large chairperson appointed by the BOC.
Commissioner J.C. Henderson argued that it was the original intent of the board to have five members and an at-large chairperson. He supplied the Citizen with a copy of the document creating the Board of Elections indicating such to demonstrate what he was referencing.
However, according to Jenny Carter with the County Attorney's Office, prior to the BOC requesting local legislation to create a Board of Elections, the BOC debated whether there should be a three- or five-member board. Drafts of each, identical except for the number of members, were prepared for the BOC's consideration, and the BOC ultimately decided on a three-member board in November 1997. The General Assembly then adopted local legislation creating the Board of Elections.
The five-member version that was not approved by the BOC or the General Assembly remained in county files, along with the three-member, approved version, and was "mistakenly distributed in place of the version approved by the BOC and then the General Assembly," she said.
"The Board of Elections has always been operated as a three-person board, as intended by the BOC and the General Assembly," she said.