Hickman declines appointment to elections board

Published 5:22 pm Thursday, July 11, 2013

Charles E. Hickman III has decided not to accept appointment to the Beaufort County Board of Elections, according to a state elections official.

On Tuesday, the Beaufort County Board of Elections was informed by the N.C. State Board of Elections that Hickman sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory declining his appointment to the local board. Hickman, Jay McRoy and Tom Payne were slated to take their oaths of office Tuesday. McRoy and Payne are expected to take their oaths as scheduled.

“It was extremely difficult. Yet, it was,” Hickman said in a brief interview when asked if making the decision to turn down the appointment was difficult.

In his letter, Hickman explains why he will not accept the appointment.

Don Wright, general counsel for the state board, confirmed that the state board had received Hickman’s letter. Wright also said the N.C Republican Party is aware of that letter.

Wright is unsure when another person will be appointed by the state board to the local board. The state board is waiting for the Republican Party to provide it with a list of nominees for potential appointment to the local board.

“The state party chairman is responsible for submitting names to the State Board of Elections. That’s found in General Statute 163-30. … However, it’s the practice of both state political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, to receive input from county parties as to nominations, but they’re not bound by the county party’s actions,” Wright said. “The state Republican Party was aware of the Hickman letter (Tuesday), and we have not heard anything further from the state Republican Party.”

In the letter, Hickman lobbies for Delma Blinson, a retired educator and a fellow Republican, to be appointed to the local board, writing that Blinson is well qualified to serve on the local board. Hickman also notes that he and Blinson were the top-vote getters (15 and 14 votes, respectively) when the Beaufort County Republican Party’s Executive Committee voted on three candidates to be submitted to the state board for consideration of appointment to the local board. McRoy received three votes.

“It has raised many eyes in Beaufort County that Dr. Blinson, with his strong support, was left off and that Mr. McRoy, with his weak support, was added,” Hickman wrote.

Hickman’s letter indicates that some local Republicans are not happy that McRoy was appointed to the local board.

“Thirdly, the last place vote getter has a record as a public official; a record of organizing with the Democrats destroying the Republican majority on the County Commission; a record of voting with the Democrats 80% of the time and more than that on fiscal matters. I do no relish the through of being a minority on a majority board masquerade,” Hickman wrote.

Last month, the state board appointed Republicans Hickman and McRoy and Democrat Tom Payne to the local board. Hickman is a former chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party. McRoy is a former Beaufort County commissioner. Payne is the current chairman of the local board.

Traditionally, the political party that holds the governor’s chair becomes the majority of the N.C. State Board of Elections. That board appoints members of local elections boards. Following that tradition means the three-member Beaufort County Board of Elections will change from two Democrats and one Republican to two Republicans and one Democrat.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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