Early Voting

A voter drops off a ballot Oct. 1, 2020 at the Pinal County Administration Complex in Casa Grande.

FLORENCE — Six residents urged the Pinal County Board of Supervisors Wednesday to promote from within instead of doing an outside search for a new elections director.

Hiring someone from the outside tells current employees that there’s no opportunity for advancement at Pinal County, according to an email that was read into the record.

Nancy Hawkins of Casa Grande, who was present Wednesday, added that her experience has been that new directors coming from outside an organization make changes that aren’t always for the better, prompting experienced employees to leave. She added she liked the suggestion from Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh, R-Coolidge, that the elections director report to the Board of Supervisors rather than to their appointed county manager.

The county’s previous elections director, Michele Forney, left late last year. At its last meeting, the board discussed the importance of the position and the ideal qualifications it would seek in a new elections director.

Kathleen Nowak of San Tan Valley said the county already has an acting director with seven years of experience under the former director. Instead of spending money on a search, “why not encourage (employee) retention and promote from within?” Nowak asked.

Dan Dooley of Magma Ranch near Florence agreed that promotion of qualified people “sends a good message.”

Mary Rodriguez of Casa Grande told the board, “It almost sounds like you have someone waiting in the wings, which would not be good at all.” She said the board should also learn from the results of the ongoing audit of Maricopa County’s last general election.

Roberto Reveles of Gold Canyon said he agreed with all the previous speakers that the position should be filled with promotion from within, and “employees should feel like they have an opportunity to reach their full potential.” He said he disagreed, however, that Pinal County should be “guided by the scandalous example” of the recount taking place in Phoenix.

Reveles said he has “full confidence” in the Pinal County Elections Department and is no longer asking the board to authorize an audit, as he had previously.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.