Timing of office abolishment questioned

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, November 10, 2012

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Davey Edwards is wondering if he’ll hold the position of Wise County surveyor for two seconds or two years.

Davey Edwards

Although voters approved the proposition to abolish the post in Tuesday’s general election, there is a question as to when that will take place.

Both Edwards and Wise County Elections Administrator Lannie Noble have made inquiries to the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office, and as of Friday afternoon, they had each been told something different.

Edwards was told by an SOS representative that “the termination of the office couldn’t take place in the middle of a term, and the [current] term was 2010 to 2014, which is the normal voting period for that office.

“Since I was elected to fill a vacant seat,” he said, “I would fill the seat until 2014.”

Noble was told the exact opposite by a different SOS representative.

“I was told since no one was in the position, the county has the right to abolish the position as soon as it’s canvassed,” said Noble. “It’s not an expired term because it was never filled. An unexpired term is when somebody quits … somebody dies.”

Edwards and Noble were each expecting to receive an official decision from the Secretary of State’s office but had not as of press time Friday.

The vote to abolish the position was narrow, 8,163 to 6,800, a difference of only 1,363 votes.

Edwards was running unopposed on the same ballot for this position and garnered 17,378 votes. More people (2,415) voted for Edwards than voted on the proposition – for or against.

After watching the results roll in Tuesday night, Edwards told the Messenger he doubted the position would ever be brought back.

“It is what it is, and the voters did decide,” he said. “And that’s what I’m going to have to go with …”

By Thursday, he had changed his tune.

“I’ve been thinking about it, and I think it’s a position that needs to be protected,” he said. “I did my own analysis of the numbers, and I got more votes [in Wise County] than Mitt (Romney), which means that not everyone voted straight ticket. People did make a conscious decision to make that vote count.”

Edwards said he had also talked to several voters who said the wording was confusing, and they voted “for” the proposition in the belief that they were supporting the county surveyor position instead of voting for its abolishment.

Edwards also thinks he waited too late to run an ad explaining the position. It ran in the Oct. 31 and Nov. 3 editions of the Messenger, but a large percentage of voters had already cast their ballots in early voting.

Four of the 25 voting precincts actually voted against the proposition and wanted to keep the county surveyor position. Those included Precinct 3 (Slidell), 147 to 140; Precinct 4 (Greenwood), 64 to 58; Precinct 9 (Alvord), 421 to 384; and Precinct 24 (Newark), 744 to 691.

After careful consideration and talking with voters, Edwards feels there’s enough interest in the position that it should be put back on the ballot for reinstatement in 2014.

“If I get in there for two years, then I still have that opportunity (to protect the records) and get the word out to the public,” he said. “I just didn’t have the time to do it in the short amount of time the commissioners gave me. I know people were really confused.

“I’m not trying to make this a huge issue,” he said. “I don’t want to sound like this is my only job because I’m not getting paid for this. It’s more of a passion for me to fulfill what my forefathers have done for me and keep the integrity of the office going.”

Edwards told the Messenger Tuesday night that in the meantime he will continue to pursue his doctorate degree, and if the county surveyor position is permanently abolished, he will consider running for state office, possibly land commissioner.

Edwards is scheduled to speak at the next meeting of the Wise County Democrats on Nov. 19.

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