Fayette Commission backs off elections board power struggle

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Thursday night, the Fayette County Commission officially backed off of its previous move to have the final say on all appointees to the county’s three-member elections board.

Last December, the commission approved a resolution that would have given the county that clout. But the backlash from residents and Elections Board Member David Studdard caused the current commission to reconsider the matter.

Currently, the county appoints its own member to the elections board, while the other two members are appointed respectively by the Fayette County Republican Party and the Fayette County Democratic Party.

The change sought by the commission in December would have given the county commission veto power of the Republican and Democratic nominees to the positions. That proposal carried on a 4-1 vote. In favor was outgoing commissioner Jack Smith along with commissioners Herb Frady, Lee Hearn and Robert Horgan; voting against was outgoing commissioner Eric Maxwell.

The about-face was led in part by new Commissioner Steve Brown, though the resolution to reconsider the matter was introduced Thursday night by Horgan.

Horgan noted that with the recent new members appointed by the political parties, he thinks the board of elections “is going in a great direction” and so there was no further need to pursue the veto power over political parties’ appointees to the board.

The veto power for the commission would have required a bill to be introduced in the legislature though no such request was ever formalized by the commission, officials said.

“This just kills this altogether,” said Commission Chairman Herb Frady.