06/17/05 — Stepping down: Hulse leaves board better than he found it

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Stepping down: Hulse leaves board better than he found it

Geoff Hulse can be involved in a plethora of complex projects at once without ever appearing flustered — in fact, apparently having fun with all of them.

Hulse has been practicing law for about 20 years in Goldsboro, but some of his most important achievements have been outside the courtroom.

Most notably, he was chairman of the Wayne County Board of Elections during six of the most difficult years in the board’s history. He finally gave up that volunteer post this week, satisfied that the county’s once-broken voting and counting process is fixed.

Failures of the election process early in Hulse’s first term —miscounts, mechanical failures, etc. — brought angry outcries from some citizens. There were howls from both parties, but mainly from Republicans who charged that their party had been treated unfairly. Distrust of the process was widespread.

Hulse proved himself a master at peacemaking. To show the board’s neutrality, he formed an elections advisory committee and filled it with people who had been the most vocal of the board’s critics.

The predominantly Democratic board members and the advisers worked together toward two goals:

•First, to establish a process by which voting was easier and counting was more accurate.

•Second, to reclaim public trust in Wayne County’s elections.

The second was as important as the first.

Gary Sims, who had been working as a troubleshooter for the state Board of Elections, was hired as the director of the county elections office. That was strongly recommended by an old friend of Hulse, state elections director Gary Bartlett.

Finally, last year’s general election came off with barely a bugaboo. That is an impressive achievement, considering the complexity of the elections — with political districts splitting precincts and counties.

At the same, Hulse was working as president of the Wayne County United Way, serving on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp., heading the Wayne County Museum board, appearing in CenterStage productions, and serving on the vestry of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

His contributions to the community have been extraordinary. His presence on the Board of Elections will be missed, but surely there will be other opportunities in the future for Hulse to serve us.

Published in Editorials on June 17, 2005 9:41 AM