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Saturday January 22nd, 2022 12:09AM

Georgia county's first Black elections chief resigns

By The Associated Press

MACON, Ga. (AP) — A central Georgia county is scrambling to find a new elections supervisor with only months to go before voting for governor and other state and congressional leaders.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections' first Black elections supervisor, Jeanetta Watson, has resigned effective Jan. 21 after serving for a decade in the role, citing the stress of the position. Board of Elections Chairman Darius Maynard said the board accepted her resignation on Friday.

He acknowledged the difficulties of running the office in recent years, which included navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, new voting systems, the aftermath of the tumultuous 2020 presidential election and contentious U.S. Senate run-offs, The Telegraph reported.

“I’m just sorry we had to get to this point with the climate we’re in,” Maynard said.

In her Jan. 5 resignation letter, Watson cited “the demands of an excessive workload" and “rapidly changing elections laws, policies, and procedures" as "overwhelmingly stressful. So much so, that I find it extremely hard to disconnect during non-work hours, and it has taken a toll on my mental health."

Watson said she was leaving this work altogether: “Because I have decided to take advantage of an alternative career, unfortunately, I will not be able to assist with the transition of a new supervisor. I pray that our office will continue to provide strong leadership and success.”

Board of Elections at-large member Mike Kaplan said Friday was a “sad day for our country and especially Macon-Bibb,” as he traced Watson’s troubles back to unfounded allegations of improper vote counting during the presidential election. Kaplan said workers were “followed home every night” and under round-the-clock surveillance.

“The stress and fear is too much,” Kaplan said, adding that he believes Watson "was in fear of her life.”

Herb Spangler, one of two Republican representatives on the board who also served as a poll manager decades ago, said he's shocked.

“I really, really was hoping she would stay on,” Spangler said. “She’s a very knowledgeable person. I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t know who we’re going to get to replace her. She was fair. She had a good personality. She had a calming voice. She was always professional and it’s going to be hard to find someone who will be able to fill her shoes.”

Maynard said the board will identify an interim supervisor as soon as possible, but even that effort has proven difficult.

“We had an interim in mind that we discussed last week, and that person agreed at first, but they’ve already pulled back out,” Maynard said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
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