New election commission seated; new election administrator hired


CELINA-A new election commission, reflecting the election of a Republican majority in both Houses of the state General Assembly, has been seated in Clay County.

A new chairman has also been appointed and a new election administrator hired following the appointment of one new member to change the majority from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. 

Bert Hestand, Jr. is the new chairman, and Wanda Daniels was hired to replace Francis Donaldson as the administrator of elections.  The new members were seated in a reorganizational meeting on April 16, while Daniels was hired at another meeting a week later. 

The Republican party gained a majority of both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction last November, prompting a change across the state to three Republican members and two Democratic members on county election commissions. Victories by the GOP increased the party’s majority in the state Senate and gave them a majority in the state House for the first time since 1968.

New members were appointed across the state in April.  

New Republican member Richard Craighead joined previous GOP members Hestand and Phil Stephens. They join holdover Democrats Ronald Bailey and Bart Cunningham on the five-person board. 

Hestand was named chairman unanimously after the new board was seated,  with former chairman Cunningham named secretary. 

At the meeting a week later, Stephens nominated Daniels for the administrator’s spot, and Bailey nominated Donaldson. The vote then went 3-2 along party lines to hire Daniels, who has served as a school board member the past three years.