Lenoir Co. Board of Elections responds to B.J. Murphy

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy expressed his opinion about the Lenoir County Board of Elections attempting to unseat Director Dana King in an exclusive interview with Jon Dawson and I on this week’s Free Press Radio Show (I also wrote about his visit in this article).

Excerpted from the audio, the mayor said, “I think the entire board needs to change. I don’t know how soon the board changes after the governor’s race, but the fact is you have a Republican governor, so you should have two Republican board members now. …

(The current  board has) had it out for her since Day 1. The Democratic Party didn’t even tell the two former members they weren’t going to be gone. They replaced them with two new people. I like them; don’t get me wrong and it’s nothing personal. … Eventually, there comes a time when it’s time to step down.”

The Lenoir County Board of Elections sent this letter to B.J. this afternoon (and CC’ed Jon and I at the same time):

Mayor Murphy,

We have read and listened to your interview yesterday, February 7, with the Free Press.  We are astonished that you would not only buy into but choose to further the hearsay rumors about the Lenoir County Board of Elections’ motivation in seeking the termination of the Elections Director.

The rumors are wrong.  Contrary to their – and your – stated perception, this Board has not been “out to get” the Elections Director, from “Day 1” or at any time since then.  Even a casual reading of the publicly-available petition for termination would tell you, if you were to bother reading it before you arbitrarily assign motivation, that the petition was driven solely by the Board’s ongoing, unaddressed, and increasing concerns about the efficient, effective management of the Board of Elections – and thus, of Lenoir County residents’ money.

It is not, and has never been, about “getting” the Elections Director, or about anyone’s taking her job.

We feel safe in assuming that one of your primary concerns, as Mayor of Kinston, is the effective, efficient management of the City’s resources.  We fail to understand then why you so freely impugn, in a public forum, the Board of Elections members’ integrity for bringing that very same priority to our oversight of the agency we were all, in fact, appointed to oversee.

We see from the article that you think “the entire Board needs to change.”  We would point out to you that the majority of the Board did in fact change, less than two years ago.  We also see that you believe that “eventually, there comes a time when it’s time to step down.”  The former Board chairman, one of the people who were not reappointed 19 months ago, had served in that capacity for 16 years.  It seems to us that more than meets your timetable for tenure.   We can’t speak to the process by which the Democratic party made the appointments, because we were not part of that process;  unless you were part of it or have spoken to members of the Lenoir County Democratic Executive Committee about it, you might consider being more careful about assigning blame for what you appear in print to consider wrong.

Your claim in the Free Press interview that “it’s nothing personal” feels very personal to each of us.

Sincerely,

Sharon Kanter, Chair

Oscar Herring, Secretary

Kimberly Allison, Member

Lenoir County Board of Elections

Again, for the original interview, check out the link above for the show.

My take: I’ve always found Dana King to be a woman of integrity; she’s one of the few people in the public realm who ALWAYS answer their phones — and if she doesn’t, she calls back ASAP.

My only beef with her has been how slow we get Election Night results as compared with surrounding counties. However, I’ve always chalked that up to her wanting to make sure everything is 100 percent complete and that there wouldn’t be any mistakes. If that’s the case — and I believe it is — good for her.

Saying all this, the board seems to have a legitimate problem(s) with her and they’re doing what they have to do to fix it in their eyes. To be continued…

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