BEAUFORT — Leadership of Carteret County’s local election process will remain unchanged, with all five members of the panel taking oaths for new, two-year terms Tuesday.
Clerk of Court Ken Raper administered oaths to Democrats Susie Cuthrell, Amy Holland and Gerald Godette, along with Republicans Dale Gillikin and Jeanette Deese during a brief ceremony Tuesday at the BOE offices in Beaufort.
“I feel like the next two years have got to be better than the last two years,” Ms. Cuthrell said, somewhat jokingly Tuesday after being sworn in. “And the last two years were great. Everything worked out well, but we did have our challenges.”
Among those challenges was pulling off the massive 2020 presidential election, in which 42,848 Carteret County voters visited the polls or voted by mail, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Four members – Ms. Holland, Ms. Gillikin, Ms. Deese and Mr. Godette – were reappointed by the N.C. State Board of Elections June 29, while Ms. Cuthrell, the chairperson of the panel, was simultaneously appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper, per the board’s organization under state law. County parties submit nominations to the state.
Ms. Deese, the former clerk to the Carteret County Board of Commissioners, and Ms. Holland, a former Morehead City town clerk, are the longest serving members of the panel, which has undergone reorganization several times in recent years. Both were first appointed in July 2015.
Ms. Gillikin is the next longest serving member, a Republican appointed to the board in April 2018. She has recently served as the board’s secretary.
Mr. Godette will serve a full term with the recent appointment. He joined the BOE in January 2020 to fill a seat vacated by Democrat Rick Heal, who resigned.
Ms. Cuthrell started on the elections panel in March 2019, after the state added a fifth seat to each of the 100 county boards.
In an equally brief organization meeting following the ceremony, the board unanimously elected Ms. Deese to replace Ms. Gillikin as the board’s secretary and Ms. Holland to serve as vice chairperson, a position the panel is not required to fill but opted to regardless.
The panel oversees all Carteret County’s elections, as balloting is conducted at a local level in North Carolina. The board oversees a staff of three full-time staff, several part-time workers and a robust staff of poll workers during any given election. After years of requesting a fourth full-time position from county commissioners, the office secured the additional staff for the fiscal 2021-22 year. That staffer, an elections specialist 1, started full time Monday.
BOE members answer to the state board, though elections are paid for at a local level, with the county covering the cost of all election cycles other than municipals, which individual towns reimburse the office for conducting on their behalf.
The five members will serve the latest term through July 2023. Work on November’s municipal elections is well underway.
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.