New four-person Rowan County Board of Elections sworn in

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2018

SALISBURY — A new Rowan County Board of Elections has been sworn in to office after a nearly two-year struggle between Republican lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper.

New members of the board are Republicans Dave Collins and Stephen Kidd and Democrats Catrelia Hunter and John Hudson.

Cooper, a Democrat, has sued Republican legislative leaders three times as laws were passed to combine the state elections and ethics boards. The combined board is responsible for appointing county-level board members, which decide voting details such as polling locations, early voting sites and more.

The first iteration of the law created an eight-member joint board, evenly divided along major party lines. The latest version increased the board to nine members, though the ninth can’t be registered with a major party.

Cooper sued legislators a third time on March 13, three days before the new law was supposed to take effect.

Before the 2016 change, the majority of seats on the state elections board were held by the governor’s party. The governor said the new law took away his control over election laws.

With primary elections looming and local election boards unable to operate because of vacancies and other issues, Cooper announced March 14 that he would appoint members to the state board.

The board has been vacant since last June.

Two weeks after Cooper’s announcement, members were in place and he had appointed new four-person boards across the state. Previously, boards had three members: two of the governor’s party and one member across the political aisle.

Catrelia Hunter, a newcomer to the board, is a retiree from Livingstone College. She said she worked in higher education over 35 years, 30 being at Livingstone. When she retired, she was vice president for advancement and acting president.

“I’ve had a long career in education, and I’ve always been involved to some degree in some things political,” Hunter said. “So I’m very much interested in my county and my community and doing what’s in the best interest of all of the citizens.”

John Hudson, now serving on the board for his 20th year, has been a lawyer in Salisbury for 33 years. He said he appreciates being back on the board.

“This board is supposed to act in the best interest of all the citizens and put on fair and impartial elections,” said Hudson. “We’ve been doing that, so I look forward to continuing with that.”

Stephen Kidd, a resident of Rowan County since 1996 and father of four, said he’s been in the financial advisory business since 2001.

“I’ve been involved in local politics, with the Rowan County Republican Party as chairman multiple times,” said Kidd. “It all led to this. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve on this board.”

Dave Collins is the co-owner of a landscaping business, Distinctive Naturescapes. He is the second return member to the board, having been appointed to replace Elaine Hewitt in 2015.

Hewitt now is vice chairwoman of the Rowan County Republican Party.

Collins was sworn in Friday before a trip out of town. The other members were sworn in Monday afternoon, shortly before electing a chairman, vice chairman and secretary.

Hudson was appointed chairman, Collins vice chairman and Hunter as secretary.