Board of elections director to resign

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Board of elections director to resign

Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Betty Smith plans to resign this summer “to alleviate health concerns.”

Smith took two leaves of absence totaling about three months in 2012 as she dealt with an autoimmune condition and has been working half-days since her return in mid-November.

“The elections business requires prolonged, extended hours to complete the tasks that are required by law,” Smith said Wednesday, adding that she didn’t feel comfortable remaining in her position if she couldn’t work the same hours her staff was working.

Smith was deputy director for more than six years and has been director since last March. She plans to stay with the BOE through the certification of May election results and the preparation of the August ballot, meaning her last day would be in late June or early July.

“That gives us a seamless transition to my replacement, so the staff will be able to build the November general election ballot,” she said.

The Board of Elections employs equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, and both parties spoke highly of Smith, who is a Republican.

“Any time you lose an employee with the skill set, the commitment and the passion that Betty brought to this board, it’s going to be a big blow,” said Deputy Director Steve Harsman, a Democrat who has worked alongside Smith for the past eight years.

Republican board member Kay Wick called Smith an outstanding director, and her colleague Greg Gantt called Smith and Harsman “unsung heroes” of county government, pointing out the hours they put in.

“Ask anybody in the government or private sector, ‘How many nights have you slept on a cot in your office? Do you have a shower in your office basement?’ ” Gantt said. “The job has become that demanding, not all the time, but certainly in presidential years.”

Board of Elections officials said they will follow the Secretary of State’s directive for advertising the position and accepting applications. Smith makes $119,995 annually.

Because Smith holds a Republican spot at the BOE, county Republican Party Chairman Rob Scott said the party will screen applicants, and make recommendations to the four BOE voting members (two Republicans and two Democrats), who will make the final choice. BOE officials said each party generally respects the other’s choice on hiring recommendations.

Harsman said Smith’s departure will be the first of many, as seven of the BOE’s top eight employees (out of 26) are expected to retire in the next three years. He and Gantt both said the BOE does extensive cross-training to make sure employees are prepared to handle multiple areas of the office.

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