October 23, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Former Chief Voter Registrar addresses Heard Citizens

To the citizens of Heard County:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for the honor and privilege of serving as the Chief Voter Registrar of Heard County. I have met so many wonderful people who have come into the office. I hope I always made everyone feel welcome when they came through my door.

I became the Voter Registrar on 4/19/2004; however, without notice or reason, I had the job taken away from me on 3/20/2012. When the Grand Jury was in session, Probate Judge (and Election Superintendent) Joseph Bledsoe presented four names to the Grand Jury to seek the Grand Jury’s approval of these four people as being respectable and upstanding citizens capable of being Registrars for Heard County.

I have spoken to many of the Grand Jury members, and they presumed he was asking for approval of all four to be Registrars, and there was no mention of one of these four people being “kicked to the curb” so to speak.

The names of the four people were then taken to Judge Lee who “appoints” the people to the position. Judge Lee appointed three of the people from the list as Registrars. He appointed Tonnie Adams (TO REPLACE ME as Chief Registrar), and Jane Barker and Alice Holmes as Registrars.

Presumably Judge Lee does not know me from “Adam’s House Cat”, nor any of the other names presented to him. The “appointment” by the judge is basically a formality, because he knows nothing about any of us. He is told by the “powers that be” the people they want.

Since Judge Bledsoe asked to speak to the Grand Jury and presented the four names for approval, I can only draw my own conclusion as to who did not want me as Chief Registrar.

However, after catching my breath from the shock of reading the contents of the letter, (I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me), I asked Judge Bledsoe what in the world was going on and why was my job taken away from me. He looked point blank at me and said he had nothing to do with it.

He repeated this to me every time I would ask a question regarding “why”? His last remark to me was that I just needed to go ahead and leave his office and talk with Judge Lee.

Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners was not in her office, but I was able to speak with her later, and she too said she knew nothing about it and said that she had nothing to do with it.

I was hired by Larry Pike, when he was Chairman of the Board of Commissioners in 2004. The job was posted in the newspaper, I applied for the job, and I was the one hire. And yes, Judge Lee signed a letter declaring I was being “appointed” as Chief Registrar by him. As I stated, someone else decides, and he signs off on it.

I later called Judge Lee, but he was in court. However, he was kind enough to return my call. I told him who I was, and why I was calling. I asked him if anyone had told him I had been the Chief Registrar since 2004 when he was presented with the names. He said yes, he knew and was sorry, but he did what he felt was best for the county.

How would he know what’s best for the county if he doesn’t know anything about any of us? I asked him if I could ask one more question (because I was going to ask if there was any reason given for my removal), but he just hung up on me mid-sentence.

I spoke to Bryan Owensby, Clerk of Superior Court, and he said he honestly knew nothing about it until he was handed the paperwork and it was a “done deal”.

To my knowledge, I am the only person who has EVER been involuntarily removed from that office. Others have retired, quit, or resigned because they were tired of the job, but I do not know of anyone who has been in that position and just removed by someone because they wanted someone else in that position.

I hold no anger or animosity toward anyone. I have found that anger is the carcinoma of the soul and hurts no one but you. Plus, I do not want to work in an environment where others that I work with do not want to work with me.

However, for someone who has done the job quite well, has never been reprimanded by anyone locally or from the State for the way I did the job, I would just like to know where all of this stems from.

I have never had a problem with the people from the State Election Office when they dropped in (always unannounced), whether it was during just a regular work period or when we were in the middle of conduction an election, I always could answer every one of their questions and put my hands right on anything they requested to see.

But to think someone can just take the job away from me is beyond anything I have ever hear of, and that includes 30 years working in corporate America. I have never experienced such lying and backstabbing as I have with this.

Also, it isn’t so much the job, but the way it was handled. To just call someone into your office and hand them their “walking papers” is not the way to handle it whether you like the person or not.

Plus, for no one in the courthouse to claim responsibility for my removal is beyond my understanding. According to O.C.G.A 21-2-212 (a)”such judge will have the right to remove one or more of such registrars at any time for cause after notice and hearing.” I want to know the cause, and where is my notice and hearing?

I wanted the full story given to you so you would not hear bits and pieces “through the grapevine”. I also wanted everyone to know I did not voluntarily leave this job, quit this job, nor was I fired from this job, or anything else, I wanted to make sure you knew this job was just TAKEN away from me without any notice or explanation as to why.

I made many new friends, met many wonderful new people who have moved into the county, and got to see a lot of old friends when they came into the office to vote or conduct other business. It was truly a wonderful time. I chose Alice Holmes and Jane Barker as the two people to work with me when Selma Bowen and Patricia Gentry resigned.

I am a “people person”, and so are Alice and Jane. I knew I could not only work well with them, but would also immensely enjoy working with them. They take their job seriously, but like me, they manage to have a good time doing so, and I thank them for the wonderful job they have always done.

To Jane and Alice, and to everyone I ever had the pleasure of seeing or meeting for whatever reason, thanks for the memories! At least my wonderful memories are something that someone can’t come along and just “snatch away” from me. I praise God for that! I also praise God for letting me enjoy the job and the people for these past eight years.

I am still in shock, but as a child of God, I know He will see me through this. He doesn’t close one door, without opening another that is even better.

My precious, precious mother-in-law, Mrs. Ernestine Miller, told me to remember, “that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”. What wonderful words to live by! It put things in a whole new perspective for me!

Carolyn D Miller, Former Chief Voter Registrar

Comments

  1. Adam Mills says:

    I obviously don’t know all the details, but this sure doesn’t seem right to me. Sounds like a gross abuse of power. I would love it if a lawyer went after the judge due to his violation of O.C.G.A 21-2-212 (a) and got the judge disbarred. Let him lose his job and see how it feels.

  2. upthecreek says:

    It sounds like good old politics in Heard County has reared its ugly head again. One would probably assume that if you were hired by Larry Pike as commissioner chair, then that position probably would be the one that recommended that you be terminated from your position.

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