Comments reportedly made to new Election Commission chair
By CONNIE ESH and JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson Post
A harassment complaint has been filed with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department concerning alleged comments made to the new chair of the Wilson County Election Commission.
Sheriff Terry Ashe has in turn “referred” the complaint to the District Attorney’s office for further investigation.
The development is the latest in an ongoing controversy that began when the Election Commission voted 3-2 at its April 22 meeting to retain longtime Administrator of Elections Lynn Harris. The new chair, Dolores Mackey, a Republican, sided with the two Democrats on the panel, Bobby Haley and Ronnie Kelley in voting to keep Harris while the other two Republican members, Phillip Price and Jan Williams voted not to do so.
Ashe described the action as a harassment complaint, but did not offer any names as to who may be involved.
Since the action of the Election Commission, officials with the Wilson County Republican Party have asked Mackey to resign, a move she has declined to do. The WCRP has approved a resolution calling for her resignation since she did not vote for a Republican to fill the spot.
The measure says if they vote in favor a known Democrat, then their membership in the local Republican Party will be discontinued.
Mackey said she did not get around to joining the Republican Party this year.
She justified her vote by saying she had sworn to be impartial when she accepted the appointment.
She also pointed out that many people who identified themselves as Republicans spoke in favor of keeping Harris as administrator of Elections noting Harris has been fair and non-partisan in her dealings with candidates and voters.
Mackey said she believed she was doing what was best for the entire county.
The resolution also asked State Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Lebanon, who recommended Mackey for the position, to denounce her actions.
Lynn said she would not do that noting that Mackey voted the way she believed she was best.
Even so, some local Republicans sought to remove Harris. Kevin Mack, former Mt. Juliet mayor, spoke in favor of naming Rob Shearer, former Mt. Juliet city manager, as the new administrator.
Mack cited difficulties in the past with getting early voting in Mt. Juliet, which Harris said had in fact been attempted in both the 1994 and 1996 elections, but the city had not really cooperated and the voter response had been poor.
When Harris asked the county Finance Committee to continue funding for Mt. Juliet early voting members refused, she said.
State law only requires early voting in the county seat, which is Lebanon.
Mack also complained about the meeting not being posted on the Election Commission’s website, which he said was a mess. He said Shearer was very good a creating and maintaining websites.
Harris agreed the Election Commission’s website needed work, but the person who maintained had left.
Price tried to nominate Shearer for the post, but Mackey explained that the previous motion to reappoint Harris took precedence.
Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at email@example.com.