Pulaski County’s new Chief Electoral Officer aims to ease tensions between commissioners
Overseeing the elections in Pulaski County may be a more daunting task than it looks.
Melinda Lemons, the new chief electoral officer for the Pulaski County Election Commission, took over a team that saw employees fired, resigned, decertified and even an altercation that led to a police report.
Now, with less than a month to go before two elections, Lemons has resumed his old job of supervising the county election workers.
The Pulaski County Election Commission will be holding two upcoming elections: the annual school election on November 2 and the special election for the town of Little Rock on November 9.
Lemons said she had some “apprehension” about the upcoming elections, given that it takes months for officials to prepare for an election, but said election workers prepared long before. its arrival at the beginning of the month.
“It’s a good thing that I understand the elections and I know where we are with them,” Lemons said.
Susan Inman, the only Democrat on the committee, praised Lemons ‘hiring, saying Lemons’ experience and close relationship with her and Republican committee chair Kristi Stahr helped ease tensions .
The Lemons previously worked under Inman during their previous stints at the Pulaski County Election Commission.
[RELATED: Full coverage of elections in Arkansas » arkansasonline.com/elections/]
“It’s kind of a bridge to each other’s relationships to make things better all around,” Inman said of leasing Lemons.
Lemons takes over about a month after Acting Chief Electoral Officer Shawn Camp was removed from his post after telling staff he was leaving the country for two weeks just before Little’s sales tax referendum Rock in September.
But the November 2020 election is what sparked the most controversy between staff and a Republican commissioner.
On the night of the 2020 election, Camp said he was pushed by commission chair Evelyn Gomez as Gomez attempted to enter a suite of offices used by commission staff. Camp then filed a police report on the incident.
The acrimony between some staff and commissioners was well known and became a political issue when the two Republican members of the commission voted to withdraw the credentials of the previous chief electoral officer, Bryan Poe, in January.
Poe resigned in March after returning from paternity leave, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.
Lemons said she didn’t spend a lot of time going over the details of what happened.
“I really didn’t want to get into the controversy,” she said. “… I especially want to focus on the future.”
Now Lemons is tasked with handling the upcoming elections and the redistribution, the latter having been delayed due to the covid-19 pandemic.
With a delay in the U.S. census, the Arkansas Board of Appointment has been slow to release new maps for the state’s House and Senate districts, leaving the commission little time to act on them. ballots.
A native of Harrison, Lemons came to Pulaski County in 2006 after serving as Boone County Clerk.
Lemons said her experience as an elected official helped her prepare for the intricacies of the election bureaucracy, allowing her to pursue a career in Pulaski County as Voter Registration Supervisor and then in the Pulaski County Electoral Council until 2013.
Lemons spent nearly six years as a project manager for the Arkansas Department of Transformation and Shared Services.