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Lenoir County Board of Elections members resign, chairwoman speaks out

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Lenoir County Board of Elections: From left - Sharon Kanter, Kimberly Allison, Oscar Herring Lenoir County Board of Elections: From left - Sharon Kanter, Kimberly Allison, Oscar Herring
Lenoir County Elections Director Dana King Lenoir County Elections Director Dana King

Tension surrounding the Lenoir County Board of Election reaches a boiling point and all three board members resign.

Board Chairwoman Sharon Kanter said she didn't feel like there was anything she could do. She says the state board didn't support their request for change and so they made a change themselves.

"It seemed like wheel spinning, basically," said Kanter who says it was the last straw.

When the State Board of Elections denied their petition to fire Elections Director Dana King, Kanter says there was no reason to keep going.

"The State Board of Election clearly did not support the initiative for change that we proposed and there just didn't seem to be any point in my continuing," said Kanter.

9 On Your Side obtained the resignation letters for Kanter and board member Kimberly Allison. Both letters, sent to Gary Bartlett at the state office, echoed the same sentiments. Allison's letter went as far as to say the elections director continued to undermine the board's authority.

"We did not bring that petition without a lot of careful thoughts, a lot of trying to project the consequences and it was not a snap decision by any stretch of the imagination," said Kanter.

During our exclusive interview, King said she was surprised they would go so far as to petition the state office.

"There was plenty of blame to go around and I will accept my part of that blame that we should have communicated better," said King.

Kanter says the budget has already been completed and with no elections in the near future, now was the best time to resign. She says the overall daily operations should not be affected, nor should future elections.

"I'm hoping that the issue will now be laid to rest and everyone can move on," said Kanter.

We tried to contact Dana King for her reaction to the resignation but we're told she was out of the office.

---Previous Story---

One of Lenoir County's top election officials is breathing a sigh of relief after finding out she gets to keep her job, despite allegations of poor performance.

The Lenoir County Board of Elections submitted a petition in late January to get King fired.

The state's top election official, Gary Bartlett, rejected the petition last week, but decided to put King on probation till December 1, saying she must take corrective action to improve operations within the elections board.

In her first TV interview since that news, King told 9 On Your Side on Tuesday that she accepts some responsibility for lack of communication with her board members.  That and poor leadership were among the complaints lodged against her.

She says she was surprised her board members tried to get her fired.

"It was very hurtful," said King, "that they didn't feel like they didn't feel like they could come to me before going that far."

The petition against King says board members did confront her about the problems they were having, but it says King failed to take corrective action for those problems.

-- Previous story --

KINSTON, N.C. - The Lenoir County Board of Elections director has been put on probation for the next eight and a half months, following allegations of poor job performance.

Gary Bartlett, director of the North Carolina state board of elections, announced his decision Wednesday afternoon, to put Dana King on probation till December 1.

The Lenoir County Board of Elections chair members petitioned Bartlett in January to have Dana King fired, accusing her of poor leadership, communication and time management skills, even after corrective action.

Bartlett denied the board's petition for termination, saying "the blame for poor communication cannot be laid solely at Ms. King's feet... I find communication to be lacking in both directions between Ms. King and the County Board."

Corrective actions must be taken immediately, Bartlett wrote. For example, the board must develop a list of the director's responsibilities, King must provide a monthly calendar and budget update to the county board on at least a monthly basis, and King must provide the county board all information from the State Board of Elections office, including scheduled events and deadlines for SBE-mandated tasks.

"I am sure all can agree that the current situation is highly unfortunate for all involved, and for Lenoir County," said Bartlett. "I see unchecked personality conflicts, vindictive distortions, and a lack of trust and harmonization by all...It is paramount that the Director and Board work in cooperation to carry out the public's business and administer successful elections."

--- Original story ---

KINSTON, N.C. - Some local election officials are trying to get their boss fired.

The Lenoir County Board of Elections submitted a petition last month asking for the termination of their director, Dana King, who's been at the helm since 1997.

The petition, signed by the board chairman and two others, is now in Raleigh at the State Board of Elections office, which has to decide by March what to do.

The 106-page document accuses King of having poor leadership, communication and time management skills, even after corrective action, causing scheduling problems and confusion for employees.

A former employee of the Lenoir County Board of Elections agrees with the document.

"She's not done anything to really help their board prepare themselves to do the job that they need to do, plus disregarded all the directives that they've given her," said Chris Whitfield, who says he worked as a judge for the Lenoir County Board of Elections for 25 years until he was fired. He was not one of the authors of the petition.

Dana King has until February 12 to give the State Board of Elections a response to the petition, said state board of elections executive director Gary Bartlett.

Bartlett says depending on the outcome of the review and whether any of the allegations are true, King may be exonerated, terminated, reprimanded, or put on probation.

The petition can be read here: http://www.co.lenoir.nc.us/documents/BOE01222013-Redacted.pdf

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