Thursday, May 2, 2013

Is Albert Tieche on the way out as Davidson County's election chief?

By Steven Hale, The City Paper, Thursday, May 2, 2013 - It became clear that Davidson County Election Administrator Albert Tieche was on the defense when he hired a personal attorney to help him respond to a scathing state review last month.
During the most recent meeting of the Davidson County Election Commission — the five-member body that hires and fires the election administrator — Tieche spent the better part of five hours disputing nearly every piece of state Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins’ report on the commission, which he said seemed written “to be personal in nature.” (link)

My Comment
It would be a damn shame if the newly elected Election Commission, which has a Republican majority, throws Albert Tieche to to wolves. The new Davidson County Election Commission Chairman, Ron Buchanan, has called a special meeting, on Friday May 10  Thursday May 9th, at 2 pm, at 800 2nd Avenue, in the first floor Conference room.  (It was first thought it would be on Friday, but they changed it to Thursday) of the DCEC. It is rumored that at that meeting the newly appointed election commission will fire Administrator of Elections Albert Tieche.

Albert Tieche is the first Republican ever in Davidson County to serve as the Davidson County Administrator of Elections. In November 2008, the Republicans gained a majority of legislative seats in the State Legislature and that meant Republicans would hold a majority on all county election commissions across the State.  When former Administrator of Elections Ray Barrett announced his retirement, the Davidson Election Commission sought applicants to fill the vacancy. Albert Tieche was chosen from the 55 people who submitted applications. Prior to taking this position, Tieche worked at the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services, had worked as an election poll officer since 2003 and had trained others in the field and had written and copyrighted a manual to help poll workers know their tasks and responsibilities on Election Day. He took office in Nov. 2010.  He is well qualified for his position.

The Election Administrator is appointed by the local Election Commission for a four-year term. He keeps voter registration records, maintains voting histories for each voter, provides information concerning voter registration, absentee voting, elections, campaigns, and campaign financial disclosures. He is responsible for organizing all matters related to local elections in the county, including tallying the votes.

Albert Tieche had had difficult job.  Despite having a Republican Election Administrator and three of five seats on the Election Commission being Republican, rank and file of employees of the Commission are almost all Democrats. Tieche inherited a staff hired by the previous Democrat Election Administrators. Even today the attorney for the Davidson County Election is from Metro Legal Services. Since Davidson County has never had a Republican Mayor, all of our agencies are controlled by Democrats so the people who work for Tieche and the people Tiche must work with are often loyal Democrats. In addition to partisan loyalty, there is a certain resentment and resistance anytime a new chief executive comes in and starts making changes.

Tieche has had a challenging job to do at the election commission. Since he has been hired we have had a legislative and county redistricting, a Lakewood election that was won by only 11 votes, a City Council race that was won by only fifty-some votes, and in 2012 Jim Gotto lost a House seat election by only 91 votes. Anytime an election is close there will be intense scrutiny given to the process. In addition, the Commission has had to learn new technology and train people in its use and comply with the new picture Id law. All of this occurred within two years. With these challenges, I think Albert Tieche has done an admirable job. A recent Metro audit of the Election Commission gave the agency a good report.

The attempt to get Albert Tieche fired is being engineered by Mary Mancini. Mancini is a left wing ideologue who heads Tennessee Citizen Action, a non-profit, community-based public interest and consumer advocacy organization. She at one time hosted a radio program on the now defunct independent left-wing Liberadio(!). She is a 2006 graduate of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center’s Leadership Institute and has various other left-wing credentials.  Mancini is said to have the ear of Goins and has some influence. Why, I don't know.

The DCEC needs to let due process run its course. A meeting with the State Election Commission will occur on May 13, 2013 at which time Mr. Tieche will have an opportunity to respond to the State audit. The DCEC needs to stand by Tiche and let him defend himself before the State Election Commission.


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