Bibb Democrats still seek to remove Allen from elections board

pramati@macon.comAugust 13, 2013 

The controversy between the Bibb County Board of Elections and the local Democratic party over whether Steve Allen should remain the party’s appointee to the board isn’t going away.

Last week, acting Democratic Party Chairwoman Sandye Powell sent a letter to Allen, saying the party’s executive committee never gave formal approval of Allen and fellow Democrat appointee Ronnie Miley when former Chairman Fred Swann reappointed them in the spring to the Board of Elections.

Party officials subsequently have named Miley and John Swint as their appointees to the elections board, which is comprised of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent.

“(Allen’s) appointment was bogus,” Powell said. “He was never properly appointed. He never got a concurrence of the (executive committee).”

Swann recently wrote a letter to Elections Supervisor Jeanetta Watson admitting as much, saying the bylaws of the local party require the concurrence of the committee to make those appointments.

“Therefore, I was not authorized to make such an appointment in a unilateral fashion,” he wrote.

Swann resigned last month and Powell replaced him, becoming the fifth person to lead the party in the past 19 months.

Allen, who was a member of the party’s executive committee when he was reappointed to the elections board by Swann to a two-year term, said he was forced to resign from the executive committee in June after party members took exception to his vote supporting Sept. 17 as the date for the nonpartisan elections for the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated government. Some local Democrats wanted the election to be held in November instead.

“This never would have come up except for that vote,” Allen said. “My understanding is that (Swann) certified me and Ronnie to be the Democrats’ representative. If he didn’t have the authority, that’s an internal problem.”

Allen responded to Powell’s letter Friday, saying he is certified to serve on the elections board according to the Bibb County Code of Ordinances. He noted that once he is certified, “there is no further question” about his appointment, based on a Georgia Supreme Court ruling in a previous case. Allen said he has been certified to serve on the elections board and sworn in by the governor.

Allen’s letter also said the party doesn’t have the power to remove him from the board, citing the county ordinance.

“Membership in a county party is not a requirement to serve on the Board of Elections, nor is it required by the Bibb County Democratic Party bylaws,” according to his letter.

Bibb County Attorney Virgil Adams previously said members can only be removed by a judge and only when there is cause for removal.

Powell’s letter said Allen’s actions “have drawn attention by the State Democratic Party” which she claims advised her to send Allen the notice that he no longer represents the local party on the board.

However, Michael Smith, administrative director for the Georgia Democratic Party, said the state party isn’t commenting on the situation in Bibb County.

“We’re not talking about it,” he said.

Powell told Allen in the letter that the local party will exhaust all remedies for his “scurrilous actions to seat yourself on the Board of Elections.” Before Monday night’s meeting of the local party, Powell said that could include going to court.

Allen, meanwhile, said he won’t be forced out of office, noting that he is still a member of the state party.

“I’m still a committed Democrat,” he said.

The Bibb County Board of Elections’ monthly meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday at the board offices at 2445 Pio Nono Ave.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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