Former Dawson County Board of Elections member Tom Foley was honored last week during a retirement party at the board of elections office.
Foley, 76, resigned in November after serving on the board for nearly 20 years, serving 16 of those years as vice chair. He was first appointed in 1998 and was the longest serving member the board has seen.
The former teacher and basketball coach is originally from Pennsylvania. He has been actively involved in the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and helped resurrect the Dawson County Democratic Party in 2003.
During the St. Patrick's Day-themed party, Glenda Ferguson, chief registrar and chairperson of the board, presented Foley with a resolution and a photo book documenting his time with the board.
Friends and fellow board members, old and new, spoke about Foley and what he meant to them.
Charlie Vincent, who was on the board for eight years during Foley's terms, said that though he and Foley differ in their party affiliation, they still became good friends.
"When I came on the board as a Republican, Tom was...nice," Vincent joked. "This board is very partisan. But over the years I think we learned to have a great relationship with each other. I can stand here today and say he is a great man. Party has nothing to do with it, he's got a good heart."
Current board member Dan Pichon said he joined the board in 2002, and remembered the early days meeting with Foley and the rest of the board in the historic courthouse, where it was freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer.
"We had eight precincts to set up across the county in those days," Pichon said.
"We've improved a lot since then-and we don't meet in chicken coops anymore."
District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix said that Foley is a special friend of hers.
"On behalf of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners I want to say thank you Tom," Nix said. "Long-time volunteers are what makes Dawson County so successful. I appreciate your friendship and I appreciate all you do for Dawson County."
Foley told the gathered party goers that he was glad of their attendance and had enjoyed his time on the board.
"It's been a real fun thing to do, be on this board," Foley said. "People say ‘gee how could you stay on a board for 18 years.' Well, it was fun, really. I enjoyed the people I worked with-even the Republicans, we liked them too."
Dale Holland took Foley's place on the board in January as the second Democratic appointee.
The Board of Elections and Voter Registration became a combined board in 1998. It is comprised of five members; two from the Republican Party and two from the Democratic Party.
The fifth position is held by the chief registrar who acts as chairperson of the board. Each member serves four year terms.
The other board members are Katrina Holbrook, Pichon and Spencer Maddux.