Gwinnett attempts to raise chair’s salary, remake elections board are dead

State lawmakers Tuesday blocked an attempt to raise the salary of Gwinnett County Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com) AJC FILE PHOTO
Caption
State lawmakers Tuesday blocked an attempt to raise the salary of Gwinnett County Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com) AJC FILE PHOTO

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Legislators Tuesday rejected a request to reconsider three Gwinnett County bills that would have almost doubled the chairwoman’s salary and remade the elections board.

The rejection came a day after the bills were voted down, 97-70. Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, reintroduced the bills Tuesday. The second rejection, by a 90-69 vote, means the bills are dead for this session.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said he would not allow Gwinnett representatives to “relitigate this” after they expressed frustration Monday about the rejections. While Rep. Dewey McClain, D-Lawrenceville, suggested it was normal courtesy to allow motions to reconsider to proceed, Ralston demurred, saying he didn’t know that there was a policy.

One bill would have raised Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson’s salary, to $143,455 from $74,266, in line with what the county sheriff makes. It also would have tied future pay increases to the sheriff’s salary.

While county commissioners can vote to raise their salaries, they would not have been able to make the raise effective until 2022. State lawmakers could have put it into effect sooner.

Monday, Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, said the rejection “perpetuates systemic racism.” She questioned whether the no votes stemmed from a “desire to keep the first Black woman ever elected Gwinnett chairwoman severely underpaid.”

Both Democrats and Republicans in the county were in support of the raise. Hendrickson’s pay lags her peers.

The other bills would have dissolved and reconstituted Gwinnett’s elections board, requiring the leadership of local political parties to make nominations for commissioners to choose from. Commissioners would have been able to select a fifth member without regard to party.

Republican lawmakers expressed concern that the Democratic commission would have too much control over the elections board. Democratic legislators said they were hypocritical, after approving other proposals that Rep. Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville and chair of the local delegation, called “hyper-partisan, undemocratic power grabs.”

Park did not respond to a text message seeking comment about the rejection while the session was ongoing. A spokesperson for the county did not have a comment on the fate of the bills.