New law ends Democrat’s term as election commission chair

The only Democrat holding the chairmanship of a county election commission is about to lose his role in accordance with a new state law, reports Georgiana Vines. quoting state Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, who was a co-sponsor of the new law when it was approved earlier this year by the Legislature.

All county election commissions have a 3-2 Republican majority membership. And everywhere but Sevier County, that has meant election of a Republican chairman. The new law took effect July 1 and Carr says the commission will meet soon to elect a new chairman.

There was nothing on the books that the chairman also be in the majority party until the legislation passed this year. (Note: It’s HB726, approved 65-8 in the House and 27-2 in the Senate.)

Carr said when the election commission reorganized in April 2015, Democrat Michael Fitzgibbons was elected in a 3-2 vote with one Republican inadvertently supporting him, Carr said.

“Someone asked graciously if he (Fitzgibbons) would reconsider the vote. He wouldn’t do it,” he said.

Carr said he “did not open that chapter up,” speaking of introducing legislation just to make sure the election commission chairman was of the majority party. But when Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon sponsored legislation affecting elections, “I put an amendment on to do that.”