LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Board of Elections has acted quickly to appoint an interim director to replace retiring director Dock Locklear, whose last day on the job is Monday.
After meeting Thursday for more than two hours behind closed doors, the three-member board unanimously voted to recommend to the State Board of Elections that Tina N. Bledsoe become the department’s interim director effective Tuesday, the first day of the new year. The appointment must be approved by the state board.
According to Locklear, Bledsoe has been an employee of the county Board of Elections for 14 years. She currently works as a computer technician, he said.
Joshua Malcolm, the board’s chairman, commended Locklear for his work over the years at developing a well-run department with well-trained staff.
“I can’t emphasize enough what Dock Locklear has done to develop the office and staff so that we are in the position that we can elevate someone from the office to fill the director’s position for the interim,” Malcolm said. “If this department was falling apart, we would have had to go to Raleigh to get a person to fill this position. … Of course we are not perfect, but we are in good shape.”
Since Locklear announced his retirement last week, Malcolm said that he has spoken several times with Gary Bartlett, executive director of the state board, to make sure that the local board follows all state regulations on appointing a new director.
“Mr. Bartlett has let me know that he has confidence that this board will make the right recommendation,” Malcolm said. “We understand more about our needs for the interim then the state because we know our office.”
Malcolm said that the board will immediately begin its search for a permanent director.
“This board’s intention is to develop a job description, advertise for the position, and make a recommendation to the state board for a permanent director as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s our intention that a permanent director be in place by spring.”
Locklear, 66, announced his intention to retire at the end of the year in a letter that was submitted to Malcolm on Dec. 18.
“I’ve taken immense pleasure in my six years and three and a half months in this public capacity,” Locklear wrote. “I have enjoyed taking on the challenges of this position and it has brought me great satisfaction and honor to serve my hometown.”
During Thursday’s special board meeting, County Manager Ricky Harris, a former Board of Elections director, presented Locklear with a plaque recognizing his years of service to the county.