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Elections Board gets new member
1KQC Dan pichon pic
Dan Pichon

A Dawson County Republican has been sworn in as a new member of the Dawson County Board of Elections.

Dan Pichon, 67, was sworn in June 7 and will fill the unexpired term of former board member Allen Ferg, a Republican who resigned March 18. Ferg cited a personal conflict as the reason for his departure.

Glenda Ferguson, chair of the Dawson County Board of Elections, said Ferg will be missed.

"Allen's service to the board and the citizens of Dawson County was exceptional, she said. He will be missed."

Pichon will serve through December 2014.

"I consider it an honor to do this," Pichon said. "I know the history of the board which makes it easier for me to step in."

Pichon and other board members will preside over next year's election when Dawson County voters help decide on a new state senator, two county commissioners, and two school board members.

To date, at least six people three of them state House representatives have announced interest in running for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss' seat. Chambliss, 69, announced in January he will not seek a third term. He is expected to serve out his second full six-year term.

The House members who plan to run are Rep. Paul Broun (R), Rep. Jack Kingston (R), and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R). Former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) is expected to run, along with businessman David Perdue (R), cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, and businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, who owns the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, according to The Hill's Campaign blog. With the election one year away, other candidates may announce.

Democratic Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) last month said he will not seek to replace Sen. Chambliss. Instead, members of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee say they hope that nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn, daughter of well-regarded former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, will accept the challenge.

Also in 2014, two Dawson County commissioners are up for re-election: Gary Pichon (District-1) and Jimmy Hamby (District-3). Pichon has announced he will not seek re-election. Hamby is undecided. Terms for two school board members, Will Wade and Cecil Bennett, are also ending. Both served four-year terms.

Dan Pichon previously served on the board of elections for six years, from 2002 to 2008. He said he was one of the first Republicans to serve, starting in 2001. He left to run for Dawson County magistrate judge in 2008, and Allen Ferg stepped in to fill his unexpired term. Pichon lost his bid for magistrate judge to Lisa Thurmond.

A retired cabinet maker and former corporate manager, Pichon said he works well with the existing board members.

"We do an outstanding job," he added. "We make sure everyone who is eligible to vote, gets to vote. There is no dissension on the board."

According to Ferguson, board members duties are to be responsible for providing policy and direction to the election and registration superintendent concerning the conduct of primaries and elections; the registration of electors, and the general operation of the elections and registration office in accordance with the by-laws of the board.

"With Dan's previous experience on the board, he will no doubt be a good asset to fill the remainder of Allen's term," Ferguson said.

Pichon said one of his goals is to be on the board when the transition is made to electronic voting.

"I have some concerns about the way it is handled," he said. "There is no paper trail. The only way to have privacy of voting is to have an optical scan-type ballot at the polling place. Then, you have a verifiable ballot. Money is so tight, nobody is raising questions about the voting process. We have consolidated the polling places down to three and saved $30,000 a year by doing that."

He also noted that in Dawson County voting is made easy by scanning the voter's driver's license.

"If people don't have a license, we'll provide them with a voter card," he said.

Additional goals include having a reasonable lead time for elections; ensuring access to polling locations; making sure voters can get in and out in 30 minutes, and possibly extending polling hours for commuters.

By law, the Dawson County Board of Elections appoints two Democrats and two Republicans to each serve two-year terms. The other Republican board member is Charles Vincent. The two Democratic members are Thomas Foley, who has served since 1997 and Spencer Maddox. Board members serve four-year terms.

The complete board comprises Glenda Ferguson, chair; Thomas Foley, vice-chair; Charles Vincent Jr., secretary; Spencer Maddux, member; Dan Pichon, member; Karen Armstrong, assistant to board.