Kathleen Campbell, the lone Democrat on the Watauga County Board of Elections, accused her Republican counterparts Wednesday evening of choosing the next elections director “behind closed doors” and without a search process.
Despite her claims, Chairman Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto outvoted Campbell 2-1 in selecting Matthew Snyder, the former chair of the Watauga County Republican Party, as the next director.
He will replace outgoing director Jane Ann Hodges, who announced her retirement earlier this year effective June.
Prior to the board’s vote, Campbell said she believed the decision was “fixed from the beginning” and hopes the N.C. State Board of Elections will overturn the board’s vote.
She further claimed the majority’s decision was made to turn the board of elections “into an arm” of the local Republican Party.
“This is a shame and inexcusable,” said Campbell prior to the official vote. “It appears Mr. Aceto and Mr. Eggers are still wanting to appoint a highly partisan person (Snyder) with no experience despite knowing he’s not qualified. I was thinking this was so because it is April Fools’ Day, but no such luck.”
Although she considers Snyder to be a “very nice man” Campbell said he has “no relevant experience” for the position of elections director as his professional background is in film production.
Furthering her concerns about Snyder was his lack of an established residency in Watauga County despite voting in a previous election, said Campbell.
He was living in New York City when he registered in Watauga County by using his parents’ address, Campbell claims.
Snyder told Campbell his knowledge of the board of elections and its processes came while serving as Republican Party chair.
“It has come to my attention that the (Watauga County) Republican Party from 2009 to the present has been fined from the state board of elections for continuing to file late (for campaign contributions),” said Campbell.
She further alleged the local Republican Party made reimbursements of “various amounts” to party officers with no explanation.
“One of these reimbursements was made to Snyder,” said Campbell.
Before listing her concerns about Snyder, however, Campbell said was interested in two other candidates she considered to be qualified for the position: Deborah Greene and Nancy Henry of Ashe County.
Of the nine people who applied for the position of elections director, Campbell said not one was interviewed by Eggers, who originally nominated Snyder at a previous meeting. She said Eggers had not talked to Snyder other than to see his resume.
Eggers denied this.
“I put his name out there, why would I call him back?” said Eggers.
Campbell said, however, that Aceto had met with Snyder about the job.
During the public comment period, Greene said she was not interviewed for the position other than Campbell and had a short exchange of phone calls with Aceto.
Greene said one of these calls occurred while Aceto was driving down the road and she considered the impromptu interview “highly unprofessional.”
Following the public comment period, but prior to the official vote, Aceto asked Greene why he would nominate anyone for the position of elections director that tried to remove him and Eggers from the board.
“Point taken,” said Greene from her seat in the audience.
Aceto also said he did not feel Henry, who previously ran for county commissioner in Ashe, was the right fit for the position either especially considering she plans to retire within the next couple of years.
In regards to the board’s decision not to advertise the position at any level, Aceto explained he did not feel it was necessary and referenced the local media coverage of Hodges’ coming retirement and vacancy as an adequate announcement.
As the board adjourned, one audience member told them "you should be ashamed of yourselves."