DeKalb County launches search for new elections director

201012-Decatur-Sharon Buie, of Decatur, waits near the front of the early voting line just before it opened at 7AM Monday morning October 12, 2020 at the DeKalb County elections office in Decatur. Buie arrieved at 5:30AM and was fifth in line. When asked why she arrived so early on the first day of early voting, she replied, “John Lewis!”  Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
201012-Decatur-Sharon Buie, of Decatur, waits near the front of the early voting line just before it opened at 7AM Monday morning October 12, 2020 at the DeKalb County elections office in Decatur. Buie arrieved at 5:30AM and was fifth in line. When asked why she arrived so early on the first day of early voting, she replied, “John Lewis!” Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

The nationwide search for DeKalb County’s next elections director is officially on.

The job listing was posted on the county website Tuesday, a little less than two weeks after the resignation of former director Erica Hamilton was finalized by DeKalb’s elections board.

Hamilton, who was heavily criticized by local leaders during the 2020 election season, had been on an “extended leave of absence” since early September.

Her replacement will be taking on a high-profile job in a large metro Atlanta county with more than 550,000 registered voters — at a time when the department is still adapting to new state laws, merely administering elections has become highly divisive and every move is being closely scrutinized, particularly in heavily Democratic communities like DeKalb.

The salary range for the job was listed as $102,843 to $159,408.

During a recent meeting, DeKalb elections board chairwoman Dele Lowman Smith said those figures are within the county’s pre-existing salary range but higher than might usually be posted — “because of the tone and tenor of elections in this country right now.”

The environment has driven some elections professionals into other fields and made the market for remaining candidates more competitive, Smith said.

Twyla Hart, the county’s existing voter registration supervisor, has been filling Hamilton’s role on a temporary basis and will continue to do so through the Nov. 2 election. But her stint as director will not extend beyond the current cycle, Smith has said.

DeKalb has also posted a listing for a deputy elections director. As envisioned, the person in that position would largely handle day-to-day operations, freeing up the new director to tackle bigger picture planning, policy and oversight.

An outside consultant’s report published in July 2020 criticized Hamilton’s over-involvement in day-to-day tasks, saying there were “simply too many moving parts to ask her to be the sole operations taskmaster for the organization while also managing policy and executive functions.”

Both new job listings are currently scheduled to close Nov. 19.

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