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Polk hires new board of elections director

By Leah Justice

leah.justice@tryondailybulletin.com

 

Polk County will go into the March presidential primary with a permanent board of elections director.

The Polk County Board of Elections decided on Tuesday, Jan. 12 to recommend Cliff Marr, of Henderson County, to be the county’s next election director. The state board of elections has to make the permanent appointment, which should happen in the next 10 days, according to the Polk County Board of Elections.

Cliff Marr

Cliff Marr

Marr has worked with the Henderson County Board of Elections the past eight years as an election specialist. He will begin his employment in Polk County on Jan. 28, according to Polk County Board of Elections Chair David Moore.

Moore said Polk’s election board is extremely excited to have Marr as Polk’s election director. The county has been searching for a director since last September, following the resignation of former elections director Karen Lawrence, who took an elections director position in another county.

“Our goal was to find someone with experience if possible,” Moore said. “Marr is very familiar with the process and he trains all the poll workers.”

Moore said Henderson County uses the same voting machines as Polk County, and Marr knows the machines “inside and out.”

The elections office has been run by Mary Pruitt, elections specialist, who will remain in that position for Polk County. Moore said he believes Marr and Pruitt, who have worked together in the past, will make a great team for Polk County.

Marr, who is still employed with Henderson County until he begins his new position in Polk, said he’s very excited to serve in Polk.

“I am very excited to serve the people of Polk County and look forward to providing the best possible experience to all the voters,” Marr said.

Polk County has been without a permanent director a couple times over the last few years. With just a little over two months before the November 2014 election, former director Tracy Waters resigned. Waters replaced former director Dale Edwards, who held the position for 31 years before her retirement. Then just a couple months before the 2015 municipal election, Lawrence resigned. Lawrence replaced Waters.

This year’s election process is in full swing with a primary election coming up in March.

Locally, five republicans and four democrats are running for the Polk County Board of Commissioners. The primary will narrow each party to three candidates for the general election. Candidates include Rhonda Lewis (D), Russell Mierop (D), Kim Pack (D), Penny Padgett (D), Josh Denton (R), John Dennis Hill (R), Jake Johnson (R), Tommy Melton (R) and Myron Yoder (R). Candidates are running to fill three open seats currently held by commissioners Michael Gage (R), Keith Holbert (R) and Tom Pack (R), none of whom decided to run for re-election.

There are also three open seats on the Polk County Board of Education with incumbents Rhonda Corley running to retain her Saluda Township seat unopposed, incumbent Rick Covil running to retain his Tryon Township seat unopposed and incumbent Cindy Allen, who is being challenged for her White Oak Township seat by Kevin Seay. There is no primary held for board of education seats.

Polk County Registrar of Deeds Sheila Whitmire (R) is running unopposed to retain her seat.

The U.S. House of Representatives District 10 seat is up for re-election with incumbent Congressman Patrick McHenry (R) filing to retain his seat, who is being challenged in the primary by Jeffrey Dale Gregory (R) and Albert Lee Wiley Jr. (R).

The winner of the republican primary will face Andy Millard (D) of Polk County in the general election.

The U.S. House of Representatives 10th district includes the counties of Rutherford, Polk, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln and Catawba as well as part of Buncombe County, including the City of Asheville.

The last day to register to vote in the primary is Feb. 19. One-stop early voting begins on Thursday, March 3 and will end on Saturday, March 12.

The primary election will be held on March 15 and the general election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 8.