Crockett County election administrator, by 3-2 vote, can live outside county

The Crockett County administrator of elections need not live in Crockett County under a decision made by the county election commission, according to The Jackson Sun. That comes after a promise she made to move into the county when hired last fall.

The Crockett County Election Commission voted 3-2 Thursday morning to change wording in the county’s bylaws that will allow Lori Lott, administrator of elections, to move back to Jackson.

Lott was hired in a controversial vote last October. The commission’s ad in Alamo’s weekly newspaper for the open position said applicants had to be residents of Crockett County, which she was not. However, according to commissioners, Lott was the most qualified, and the commission was weeks away from the Nov. 4 election.

Lott was hired with a stipulation that she had until Jan. 31 to become a permanent resident of Crockett County. Lott adhered to the stipulation, and was hired on a permanent basis.

Now she’s asking to move back to Madison County. Lott pointed out that the director of Crockett County 911, Chad Reasons, does not live in the county either. State law does not require the administrator of elections to live in the county.

“I’m very pleased with the decision they made and I think it’s very fair, and that’s all I really asked — was for fairness,” Lott said Thursday. “I’m very appreciative, very humbled that they voted in my favor.”

Crockett County Election Commissioner Fred Powers, a Democrat, said if Lott moves she will be breaking a promise she made to the commission last fall. Powers and Jo Ann Hughes, the only other Democrat on the five-member commission, were outvoted.

“When you came here, you came here with our understanding that you were going to move to Crockett County, and you sat there and promised us you would stay in Crockett County,” Powers said.

“I know I can’t stop you, and I can’t stop you from approving it, but I want you to know up front I think you’re wrong in what you’re doing,” Powers told Lott and fellow commissioners at Thursday’s meeting.

Rusty Via, the newly appointed chairman of the commission, was the deciding vote on dropping the residency requirement from the bylaws.

“I think those conditions of employment unnecessarily hamstring this commission, hindering them from being able to select the best candidate for the job,” Via said.

…Three new Republican commissioners were appointed to the county’s Election Commission last week. Former commissioners Danny Moore, who was chairman, Tres Goldsby and Anthony Stallings were all replaced.

According to Moore, the three members were not reappointed to the commission because they disagreed with allowing Lott to move back to Madison County as administrator of elections.

“Mrs. Lott then contacted Mr. Jimmy Wallace, a (member) of the State Election Commission who effectively removed me and the other two Republican election commissioners because we would not allow Mrs. Lott to violate her agreement of maintaining a permanent residence in Crockett County,” Moore told The Jackson Sun in a written statement.

Wallace said he voted to appoint new members because he felt Moore’s position was “grossly unfair,” and that Goldsby and Stallings would follow Moore’s lead.