Disagreement over whether or not to give Kent Wall, the Davidson County Administrator of Elections, a routine across the board cost-of-living pay hike that all other Metro employees got has gone public and was reported in this morning's Tennessean. (link)
The five-member election commission, with one Republican member absent, voted 3-1 last month to award the 2.5 percent pay hike on top of Wall's current $102,500 annual salary. While the Election Commission budget must be approved by the Metro Council as part of the normal budget process and while employees of the Election Commission are Metro employees, the Election Commission determines the salary of their own employees.
The opposition to awarding the pay hike came from Democrat Commissioner Tricia Herzfeld. Her primary reason for opposing the pay hike was that Wall has not pursued a certification of administrators from the Tennessee Secretary of State.
I think Herzfield has a point. If I were serving on the Election Commission, I think I would have voted with her. We are the State's capital city. Nationwide we are the "it" city. For our election commission to be only one of 13 counties in the State without a certified administrator of elections is embarrassing. Some very small, rural, low-income counties have certified administrators of elections and Davidson County does not? Also if the Administrator of Elections is certified, the State pays the County more money than if the Administrator is not certified.
To obtain certification, administrators must complete a course of study that covers 40 election law topics and pass a closed book, written test that can last up to three and a half hours which ask questions based on statutory requirements and range from voter registration to Election Day guidelines. Secretary of State Tre Hargett is pushing to have all administrators of elections become certified. I think if 74-year-old Kent Wall does not want to get certified, he should resign his position. If he does not pursue certification, he certainly does not deserve a pay raise.
The Tennessean reports that the Election Commission meeting where Herzfield made her case against giving Wall the pay raise, became heated with finger pointing and Chairman of the Election Commission Roy Buchanan and Herzfeld questioning each others motives.