06/04/12 — Elections director resigns her post

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Elections director resigns her post

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 4, 2012 1:46 PM

Vickie Reed

The director and assistant director of the Wayne County Board of Elections have resigned after a letter complaining about the director prompted two closed door personnel sessions with the board.

Director Vickie Reed and Assistant Director Michael Barry submitted their letters of resignation Friday -- a move Elections Board Chairman Joe Lofton said came as a surprise. He said the board did not ask for the resignations.

The letters came at the end of a week marked by two closed sessions called to discuss "the conduct of the elections and personnel matters and take whatever action is needed." Lofton declined comment on whether or not Ms. Reed, who has served as county elections director since Jan. 2, 2008, was the subject of the closed sessions.

State Board of Elections Director Gary Bartlett attended last Tuesday's session, which lasted two hours before being recessed until Friday. Lofton and Chris Gurley, the board's two Democrats, met for about 20 minutes behind closed doors Friday with County Attorney Borden Parker.

After returning to open session, the meeting was recessed until this Wednesday because the full board was not present. Republican board member Hal Keck was not at the Friday meeting. Contacted at home, Keck said he had not attended because he was sick.

Wednesday's meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

Lofton said the meeting will be held as scheduled, but that the subject matter will be the resignations as well as finding an interim director and assistant director.

It is a matter of some urgency since a second statewide primary will be held July 17 along with Goldsboro's municipal election.

The resignations come just weeks after a May 18 letter from Bartlett who chastised Ms. Reed for statements she made in a May 16 deposition for the a civil court case in which voters challenged the General Assembly's statewide redistricting.

He challenged what he characterized as Ms. Reed's criticism of the reliability of the state staff's information and said that her comments showed a marked need for training in election processes.

Bartlett said that Ms. Reed's deposition was referred to his office by the state Attorney's General Office because of concerns about some of her comments.

Ms. Reed responded to Bartlett's letter with her own dated May 24 in which she blamed the controversy on her failure to catch and amend statements in the deposition before signing off on the document.

Bartlett has denied that the controversy over the comments has anything to do with politics. He is a Democrat and Ms. Reed is registered as unaffiliated.

Ms. Reed's letter, which was addressed to Lofton, was a simple notice of her intent to leave her post as of June 15.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Wayne County during the last four years," she wrote. "I have enjoyed working and growing with you during this time."

Barry, who addressed his letter to Ms. Reed, also cited June 15 as his final work day.

He thanked the board for the opportunity to serve, and made a veiled reference to comments by Bartlett about his and Reed's fitness to serve.

"I have come to realize that with my education and experience that I do not have the expertise required to be an asset to Wayne County and the citizens," he wrote "I regret any inconvenience that this short notice will cause. I wish you and the company much success in the future."

Ms. Reed could not be reached for comment by press time today.