How many Bibb County residents do you think could name just one of the five members of the Bibb County Board of Elections, much less describe what they do? While what they do is essential to our voting process, they normally operate in the background, away from most spotlights. Unless there are serious problems on Election Day they are not sought for interviews and explanations -- and even if there are problems, the hammer would fall on Jeanetta Watson the elections supervisor.
For the record, the board comprises five members: two Republicans, two Democrats and one nonpartisan. The chairwoman is Rinda Wilson, a Republican and the vice chairman was Steve Allen, a Democrat (we’ll explain the “was” later). The other members are Barbara Clowers, nonpartisan, Ronnie Miley, Democrat, and Herbert Spangler, Republican.
All that anonymity ended last Thursday, when the board was meeting to approve or reject the Bibb Board of Commissioners’ vote to hold nonpartisan elections in November. The vote was 3-2 to approve. Within a few hours, District 4 candidate Mallory Jones filed suit to force a vote July 16 or the next legally possible date, which is Sept. 17. A few hours later, the Board of Elections met and sided 3-1 with the two dissenting commissioners, Gary Bechtel and Joe Allen. Miley, the only dissenting vote said he would have voted against any date because he was opposed to nonpartisan elections. Allen, as acting chair because Wilson was absent, tried to abstain but was told by County Attorney Virgil Adams that each member only had one vote and that if he didn’t vote, the elections board would be deadlocked. So Allen voted for the September date. That sealed his fate.
Monday, the Bibb County Democratic Party Executive Board voted to remove Allen from the Board of Elections. Those on the board have been consistently against nonpartisan elections and earlier than November elections. To those outside the inside of politics, the move may seem petty -- because it is. However, that’s the way the game is played and rarely do we see it played so openly.
Allen has served his community well during his long tenure on the board. For that he has our thanks. Now it’s up to the Democrats to nominate someone as knowledgeable, and that task, quite frankly, is going to be almost impossible.