Political Notebook: Rowan County elections supervisor speaks out after debate to replace him

Published 4:45 am Monday, October 25, 2021

SALISBURY — Elections supervisor Richard Dillon, who was the subject of a recent discussion during a Board of Elections meeting, says he’s done a good job assisting with elections despite concerns voiced.

During an Oct. 12 meeting of the Rowan County Board of Elections, board member George W. Benson said he was opposed to Dillon serving as supervisor during one-stop early voting. Benson cited a concern he voiced in July when board members discussed the feasibility of curbside drive-thru voting for future elections. Benson’s complaint was that during the 2020 election Dillon didn’t properly handle disruptions caused by a caravan of vehicles participating in a pro-Trump parade and a few vehicles holding “make good trouble” signs that both made their way to the no-campaigning zone at the West End Plaza. State law provides a “buffer zone” at elections sites, with no campaigning allowed within 50 feet of the entrance.

Additionally, Benson recalled speaking with Dillon during one-stop early voting in 2020 about needing more staff to help with curbside voting because more than 20 cars were waiting in line an hour after the voting site opened. Benson said he was told it would be handled and didn’t feel that it was.

Board members on Oct. 12 unanimously voted in support of Benson’s motion to replace Dillon, who’s registered unaffiliated, with Henry Diggs, a registered Democrat. Board member Dave Collins was not present. Later in the day, board members agreed via email to move forward with the original list because Diggs declined a request from elections director Brenda McCubbins to be supervisor. Additionally, the early one-stop voting period was set to begin in less than 48 hours.

During a regular meeting on Oct. 19, Dillion said he wouldn’t supervise future elections after being publicly humiliated.

Dillon told the Post he only recalls the pro-Trump parade and not cars toting “make good trouble” signs. Dillon said he was directed by Executive Director Brenda McCubbins to let her and other staff handle diverting the caravan away from the elections office.

“It could have been dangerous, but they handled it well,” Dillon said.

Dillon began assisting with elections in 2006 early voting in the 2008 election. He’s worked every election except for the 2016 presidential election. The 2020 election was “hectic,” but “it turned out well,” he said.

Dillon said there were long lines among curbside voters, but there were “no grumbles.” Instead, voters were appreciative and understanding that they’d have to wait in line like walk-up voters. Dillon said staff eventually arranged for four workers to handle curbside voting.

During the Oct. 19 meeting, Dillon said he wouldn’t supervise any future elections. He still maintains that stance. He also told the Post that his complaint was that a personnel-related issue was discussed during an open meeting.

“It made it sound like I was incompetent and I don’t think I am because they continued to call me to serve,” Dillon said. “I feel like I’ve done a good job contrary to what some people think.”

The Rowan County Board of Elections will meet again Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at its office, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Boulevard.

Rowan County Republican Women’s group endorses candidates for Salisbury City Council

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Republican Women’s group has endorsed registered Republicans on the ballot for Salisbury’s mayoral and city council race, which are both nonpartisan.

Early voting is underway in Rowan County and spans until Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 2. Seats in all of the county’s 10 municipalities are up for grabs. Because Rowan County’s municipal elections are nonpartisan, party affiliation doesn’t appear on the ballot.

The Rowan County Republican Party previously told the Post it doesn’t make endorsements, but the women’s group or Young Republicans can as newly charted branches of the party. The women’s group has endorsed Mayor Karen Alexander and candidates Nalini Joseph and Jessica Cloward for Salisbury City Council. All three are registered Republicans.

In a Facebook post from Oct. 18, the Republican women’s group said, “Get out and vote for these three remarkable ladies! Remember…..you do not need to vote for more than these three ladies for your vote to count!”

Rowan County Democrats endorsed Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins in her bid for Salisbury mayor as well as Tamara Sheffield and Anthony Smith for City Council.

Candidates David Post and Harry McLaughlin Jr. are the only two candidates registered unaffiliated. Candidate Jonathan Barbee is a registered Republican. Barbee was included as one of the conservative candidates in a Facebook post advertising a meet-and-greet with Alexander by the Rowan Republican Women’s group in September.