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Local GOP chair named elections chief

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

A new elections director for Lincoln County was named this week.

The Board of Elections announced Wednesday that Bradley Putnam, former chairman of the local Republican Party, had been approved by the State Board of Elections to take up the nonpartisan job.

“His experience in administration and finance will be an asset in the position,” Wayne Mitchem, chairman of the county’s Elections Board, said in a statement.

Putnam said he stepped down as GOP chair a couple of weeks ago. The group will vote on his replacement at its next board meeting.

The move comes after the resignation, effective this past Tuesday, of former elections director Bill C. Beam, who decided to relinquish the post following a failed attempt by the local Board of Elections to have him fired.

A majority of the local board had filed a petition with the State Board of Elections for his termination in July, which was ultimately denied due to insufficient evidence of any wrongdoing.

Two members of the three-member board, including Republicans Mitchem and Charles Newman, secretary, signed the petition. Member Marsha Jordan, a Democrat, did not.

State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach refused the petition on Aug. 19.

The local Board of Elections, whose members were appointed in June, does not have the authority to fire a director. It proceeded with the petition within days of being sworn in. The members serve two-year terms and are selected in odd-numbered years. Due to the change in state leadership, the new board received a Republican majority.

Beam said last week that he plans to pursue other business interests.

Meanwhile, Putnam’s first day on the job will be Oct. 2.

“Once I heard that Mr. Beam had decided to step down, I voiced my interest to board members,” he said. “After being called in for an interview, I was notified (that) the board voted unanimously to select me to fill the director’s position.”

His interest in the electoral process began several years ago and “just grew from there,” he said.

“Reading statutes and election laws for most people seems boring, but, to me, it’s exciting,” Putnam added.

Among his goals as director is increasing voter registration, as well as implementing better use of social media and a new website for the local Board of Elections.

“I look forward to serving all the voters of Lincoln County and (am) excited for what the future holds,” he said.

The change in leadership for the office comes just weeks before the Nov. 5 municipal election.

 

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