LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Democratic Party is forwarding three names to state officials to be considered for a position on the county Board of Elections, but a Lumberton City Councilman is unhappy, saying a black could be excluded from the local board.
The three nominees were selected at a party meeting on Monday. They are Tiffany Powers, a Lumberton attorney and former member of the Robeson County Board of Elections; Abe Marshall, the former manager of JC Penney in Lumberton; and Kent Chavis, an attorney from Maxton. Both Powell and Marshall are black; Chavis is an American Indian.
The list of candidates, submitted to the party’s Executive Committee for approval and supported by party Chairman John McNeill, is being criticized by Councilman John Cantey for not including Lisa Douglas, the board’s current chairman. Cantey is the party’s vice chairman.
“The best alternative to preserve our voting strength and take this issue out of the hands of local politics would be to send up the names of Mrs. Douglas and Mrs. Powers. Then, allow our state Board of Elections representative (Joshua Malcolm) to support whatever nominee he chooses,” Cantey said in an email to The Robesonian. “This would have maintained unity within the party when it’s needed the most.”
The GOP list of nominees for its two seats on the local board includes no blacks. In addition to Steve Stone, a current member of the board, the nominees are Daniel Locklear, an American Indian attorney from Maxton, and Eric West, a white attorney from Lumberton.
Cantey said that the “will of the people” is that both Douglas and Powers be considered for the seat. He said that both women are “equally qualified” for the position.
Cantey, who is black, said he believes the Democrats should work to get a black person appointed to the board to maintain the county’s tradition of always having a white, black and American Indian member on the board.
When the new three-member board is sworn in during July, it will include two Republicans and one Democrat. By state law, the party of the governor gets two seats on the elections board in all 100 counties, while the minority party gets one member. Gov. Pat McCrory is a Republican.
The Robeson County Board of Elections is now made up of Douglas and Secretary Steve Stone, a longtime GOP member of the board. The local board has been one member short since former Chairman Joshua Malcolm, a Democrat, was tapped by McCrory to serve on the state Board of Elections.