Colum­nist picked for elec­tion board

The Covington News - - Front page - DANIELLE EVER­SON deverson@cov­news.com

Wil­liam Perug­ino was ap­pointed to fill an un­ex­pired term for the Repub­li­can Party seat on the Board of Elec­tions and Reg­is­tra­tion at the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sioner’s meet­ing on Tues­day night.

Perug­ino re­places board mem­ber Stan­ley Ed­wards who re­signed as the GOP rep­re­sen­ta­tive on Aug. 24. Ed­wards’ term was sup­posed to ex­pire in 2014.

Ed­wards, who said he has been in­volved with the elec­tions board since 1976, said he de­cided to step down to take a rest. He said he has en­joyed work­ing with the of­fice and will continue to vol­un­teer.

“You couldn’t ask for any­one bet­ter with Hugh Steele as chair­man and Jeanette Perry, [as] a Demo­crat rep­re­sen­ta­tive; An­gela and Donna all of them have been ter­rific,” Ed­wards said. “They are great folks. They don’t even get the credit they de­serve. That’s a tough of­fice. I’m go­ing to go ahead and help them with ab­sen­tees dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,” he said.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Com­mis­sioner Tim Flem­ing thanked Ed­wards for serv­ing on the elec­tions board.

“I’d like to thank Mr. Stan­ley Ed­wards for his many, many years of ser­vice to this county and the New­ton County Board of Elec­tions,” Flem­ing said. “He’s done an out­stand­ing job and we hate to lose him on that board.”

Af­ter the board ap­proved the ap­point­ment, Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz thanked Ed­wards for his ded­i­ca­tion to the board but ex­pressed her con­cern for fair­ness to continue as Perug­ino took of­fice as the new Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“I think it goes with­out say­ing that all of us ap­pre­ci­ate the ser­vices of Mr. Ed­wards and he served this community with a sense of rea­son and fair­ness,” Schulz said. “I know that Mr. Perug­ino has in the past writ­ten some pas­sion­ate and some­times in­flam­ma­tory com­ments in The Cov­ing­ton News and I would hope that we’d en­cour­age him to en­sure fair elec­tions for all vot­ers and pro­tect the rights for all vot­ers re­gard­less of the po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sion.”

The News con­tacted Perug­ino about his ap­point­ment to the board. He said he was look­ing for­ward to serv­ing and he would be fair while serv­ing as a board mem­ber.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to serv­ing the board and hav­ing the unique op­por- tu­nity to oversea this pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, which of course would be a unique oc­ca­sion,” Perug­ino said.

“I’m a con­sti­tu­tion­al­ists, I’m a Viet­nam war vet, I served two terms in Iraq, I’m an ea­gle scout, I con­sider my­self a pa­triot for things that are a pri­or­ity for me or of course our Con­sti­tu­tion and the fair­ness that that brings to all of us,” he said. “Those are very im­por­tant things to me and I will cer­tainly serve on the board of elec­tions to en­sure that that hap­pens,” Perug­ino said.

Com­mis­sioner J.C. Hen­der­son asked com­mis­sion­ers and Jenny Carter with the County At­tor­ney’s Of­fice about the com­po­si­tion of the elec­tions board. He said he re­mem­bered there be­ing five mem­bers on the board, one for each com­mis­sioner mem­ber. He pro­vided The News with a copy of the doc­u­men­ta­tion to which he was re­fer­ring to.

How­ever, Carter said the board ap­proved three-mem­bers and it was signed into leg­is­la­tion by the Ge­or­gia Gen­eral Assem­bly.

“That was cre­ated by a spe­cial lo­cal act with the Ge­or­gia Assem­bly so in or­der to change the com­po­si­tion of that board there will need to be an amend­ment to that lo­cal leg­is­la­tion,” Carter said. “It wasn’t a county or­di­nance. It was a lo­cal act that setup the pro­ce­dure that’s now in place.”

In ad­di­tion, The News spoke with county clerk Jackie Smith to look into whether or not the board had dis­cus­sions about hav­ing a five-mem­ber board. She said in Novem­ber 1997 com­mis­sion­ers dis­cussed hav­ing a five-mem­bers on the board at first, but then ap­proved a three-mem­ber board at their sec­ond meet­ing that month.

Ac­cord­ing to bill SB 687 from the Ge­or­gia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives which was signed into leg­is­la­tion in 1998 and cre­ated the board of elec­tions and reg­is­tra­tion for New­ton County, sec­tion 2-131 to 2-1-32 (a) said the board shall be com­posed of three mem­bers, each of whom shall be an elec­tor and res­i­dent of New­ton County.

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