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County Commissioner and Canvassing Board member Barbara Revels, Canvassing Board Chairwoman Melissa Moore Stens and Elections Supervisor Kimberle Weeks. File photo by Jonathan Simmons.
Palm Coast Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 3 years ago

County seeks state input on Canvassing Board removals

by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The Flagler County Commission has directed county staff to ask the state elections division whether or not the Canvassing Board has the authority to remove members.

“I’m kind of concerned about some stuff that was happening at the last Canvassing Board,” County Commissioner Frank Meeker said at a Nov. 17 County Commission meeting. “My question is related to who has the authority to remove members from the (canvassing) board, especially if they were appointed by this body.”

He also questioned whether the issue that led to County Commissioner George Hanns’ removal from the Canvassing Board had warranted it at all, and asked staff about seeking an attorney general’s opinion.
“I’d like to ask the question,” he said during the meeting. “It didn’t feel right to me.”

County Administrator Craig Coffey advised that the county take the matter to the Division of Elections first, and the County Commission agreed to his suggestion.

Elections Supervisor Kimberle Weeks had pressed for Hanns’ removal from the board after a mailer sent out by Meeker’s re-election campaign quoted Hanns as endorsing Meeker, although Meeker said Hanns had not uttered the quote and never endorsed him, and Hanns said he’s ever endorsed anyone in 23 years as a commissioner.

Meeker said later that the quote was a placeholder quote for an endorsement Meeker was seeking from another official. But County Judge Melissa Moore Stens voted with Weeks late on election night to remove Hanns from the board.

Because the County Commission reorganized itself Nov. 18 after swearing in Meeker and Commissioner Nate McLaughlin, the Canvassing Board will have to be reconstituted before the upcoming special elections.

The commission’s representative on the board, under Florida law, is supposed to be the chairman of the County Commission or an alternate appointed by the chairman.

The County Commission Chairman had until Nov. 18 been George Hanns, who had been replaced on the Canvassing Board, after his removal, by Commissioner Barbara Revels.

But now the new County Commission Chairman is Frank Meeker, who could either take the Canvassing Board seat himself, or put someone else in his place.

At the Canvassing Board’s Nov. 19 final meeting for the November elections, Weeks read into the record a four-page letter criticizing the city of Palm Coast, the Flagler County Sheriff, the Flagler County Commission, the county administrator, the county attorney and the local press, and defending her opposition to Hanns and Ericksen.

“As Supervisor of Elections, I have been impartial and have gone above and beyond to maintain the voters confidence that our local elections are fair and honest,” she wrote. “In fact, I have lots of documentation to support the fact that the public’s confidence in our local elections are very high, and that the public opinion of the job I and the rest of the election officials have done is approved and thought well of; which yes, discredits County Administrator Craig Coffey’s October 21 claim.”

Coffey had written in an Oct. 21 letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner that the county was concerned that confidence in local elections “may have reached a new low … because of recent and past events involving the Supervisor of Elections.”

Weeks wrote in her letter, “His claim is believed to be repercussion for the behaviors of the county attorney and county commissioners.”

Weeks submitted her letter to the record as part of a 15-page document that included the letter from Coffey to Detzner, another letter from Coffey to the press, several letters and emails — from former County Commission candidate Dennis McDonald, Flagler County Republican Executive Committee representative Bob Hamby, and local residents Timothy Hall and John and Carole Ruffalo — an old Division of Elections opinion about Canvassing Board member removal, and a photocopy of an office “important message” memo filled out by hand by an office worker taking the message from someone who called in.

The “to” section of the memo was addressed to Weeks, the date filled was filled out as “Nov. 18, 2014,” and message section was filled in as follows: “Keep up the good works (sic) and kick they’re (sic) butts.”

To view the entire document submitted by Weeks, CLICK HERE.



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