By Jesse Wood
State Board of Elections Director Kim Strach appointed former Watauga County GOP Chair Matthew Snyder has the next director of elections in Watauga County.
Snyder’s appointment is effective July 1, which is the day after Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges retires.
Snyder was initially nominated on April 1 in a 2-1 vote. Chair Luke Eggers and Secretary Bill Aceto, both Republicans on the board, voted in favor of Snyder, while Democrat Kathleen Campbell opposed.
After procedural concerns were voiced regarding the voting of Snyder’s appointment, the board held another vote with the same result during last Friday’s special meeting where the only agenda item was to vote on a set of minutes for the April 1 meeting.
Strach notified members of the Watauga County Board of Elections about the appointment via email on Monday evening in a two-page letter. See the entire letter below.
Strach addressed the concerns from members of the public and Campbell about the validity of the initial nomination, the selection process and accuracy of minutes. She also alluded to the fact that Snyder was the former head of the Watauga County Republican Party.
Strach said she reviewed the nomination letter, which included minutes from the April 1 meeting, and the video of the meeting that HCPress.com recorded.
“I am satisfied that the majority has sufficiently evidenced its intent to nominate Mr. Snyder, though I would stress the importance that minutes be ‘full and accurate,’” Strach said.
“It will be imperative that your Board stress the necessity that Mr. Snyder abstain from political activity, as required [by N.C. General Statutes] and the enclosed Notice Regarding Social Media,” Strach said. “Impartiality and sound judgment are necessary to the proper administration of elections and are qualities critical for every director of elections.”
Strach also said that the selection process to hire Snyder was legal. Campbell criticized the Republican board members for not advertising the position, reviewing a number of candidates, interviewing the best applicants and whittling the field.
“As you know, the exercise of this statutory responsibility is not an opportunity for my office to pass judgment on the propriety or relative qualification of a given nominee. Instead, my office is directed to ensure basic statutory qualifications are met and then to facilitate required training and support for the incoming director,” Strach said.
Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque will recommend a salary for Snyder now that the appointment is official. Last month, he said that incoming director’s salary would be less than what Hodges currently makes ($60,167) because of her 29 years of experience.
See prior stories about this appointment, Hodges’ retirement and past meetings here.
Here is letter from Strach: Strach’s Appointment Letter