WilCo elections administrator is top pick for position in Atlanta
GEORGETOWN â€”Â Williamson County Elections Administrator Rick Barron will accept a position in Atlanta, Georgia pending a May 15 vote by the Fulton County Commission on whether to hire him.
According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Barron is the Fulton County’s Registration and Elections Board top pick for a new election director.
Fulton has not had an elections director since last September, when Sam Westmoreland resigned while jailed for “failing to follow sentencing terms from two prescription drug-related DUI arrests,” the April 30 article states.
An investigation conducted by the newspaper found that Westmoreland had lied on parts of his resume and managed the elections department during a primary election and November presidential election filled with issues.
Though nothing is official at this time, Barron told The Hutto News that he will take the Fulton County position if it is offered to him next week.
In phone interviews in late April and on Monday, Barron emphasized the vote still has not taken place and focused on the accomplishments of the Williamson County Election’s Department during his tenure.
“I’ve appreciated all of the opportunities. I feel like the department’s grown and been successful. We’ve had 30 successful elections since I started,” Barron said. “I’m not going to take all the credit for that because my staff is great.”
Most recently, the Secretary of State’s Department approved voting centers in Williamson County, which allows voters to vote anywhere within the county. If they prove successful on May Election Day, the SOS could approve the vote centers again for November elections.
The new model not only gives voters the flexibility to vote at any voting center in the county, but also streamlines Election Day activities for county staff.
Fulton County is not the only area that has been looking to bring on Barron as leader of its elections department. Barron said he had three inquiries in one week but Atlanta “put the offer down.”
If the vote doesn’t go through, Barron said he would plan on continuing to work for Williamson County.
Barron has been the subject of both praise and criticism during his time as elections administrator, most notably after the 2012 November election.
His future was on the line in January after two incidents arose during the November election.
A resolution formed by the Williamson County Republican Party’s executive committee in December recommended to the county’s Election Commission that Barron be removed from the position.
The resolution claimed Barron mishandled the Jarrell election because 15 wrong ballots were handed out and that he removed an election judge from a polling place on Nov. 6, illegally.
However, the five-member Williamson County Election Commission did not entirely agree, as is evidenced in the 3-2 vote determining that Barron remain in his current position.
The deliberation leading up to the vote was intense and included a sharp contrast in comments between County Clerk Nancy Rister and Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter, two of the members on the Election Commission.
“I am in total disagreement with the resolution and I understand there is some question as to whether Mr. Barron had the legal right or not to remove John Gordon from the elections polling place but I do know there is a long history of behavior on the part of Mr. Gordon. He has done things that are in violation of local, state and possibly, federal law. I have in my possession here four letters from people who have worked with him and documents things that he had done during elections,” Carter said.
Rister had a different perspective announced during beginning comments of the deliberation. She said she had “lost confidence in Rick’s ability to do the job.”
Barron had the chance to defend himself after commissioners’ comments. He provided evidence of the amount of training offered to election workers, including off-season, and how training has improved since he took over. Early voting changed over to electronic voting during his reign, which has reportedly made the voting process faster.
He mentioned regularly updating training manuals and the fact that the elections department likely needs 80 or more computers at this point. He also provided copies of letters where he and his staff were praised for their work, both at the local and state levels.
Barron addressed Rister and said that he feels he gets the cold shoulder from her and would like to establish a relationship with her.
When asked if the hearing related to his position in Williamson County is what led him to pursue other opportunities, Barron said “very little.”
“I had applied for some jobs before the hearing and it was because of everything that was going on (prior to the hearing). This was one of those jobs that I applied for. But the hearing was a positive,” he said.