LUMBERTON — Th Robeson County Elections Office will have a void to fill in the new year.
Dock Locklear, county elections director, announced his retirement Tuesday in a letter submitted to Joshua Malcolm, chairman of the Robeson County Board of Elections, shortly before the board’s meeting.
“I’ve taken immense pleasure in my six years and three-and-a-half months in this public capacity,” Malcolm read from Locklear’s letter. “I have enjoyed taking on the challenges of this position and it has brought me great satisfaction and honor to serve my hometown.”
Locklear, who is 66 years old, said he had “faced some opposition” from the board, and some things he would have liked to accomplish — such as moving the office to a new location and installing technology that would make the office more efficient — didn’t happen.
“I don’t harbor any ill will or hard feelings towards anybody,” he said. “All in all, it’s been good. … I’m looking forward to my next step in life.”
Locklear’s retirement will go into effect on Dec. 31. The board scheduled a special meeting for the tentative date of Dec. 27 to discuss hiring an interim director.
Next year the board itself is likely to change when the new governor, Pat McCrory, makes appointments. The board is now composed of two Democrats and one Republican, but the power will likely shift to two Republicans and one Democrat because McCrory is a Republican.
Also on Tuesday, the board combined polling locations in Fairmont, Red Springs and St. Pauls that are each within a block of each other.
“We’ve had problems where people in number one would go to two and want to vote and people in number two want to go to one to vote,” Locklear said. “… There is the possibility that (consolidating polling sites) might have some lines, but it’s not anything to a level that would be an issue.”
Locklear said the elimination of one site would be more convenient for candidates and save money. Public hearings were held on each of the board’s decisions, but no one was present to speak.
The board also moved three polling sites. The Back Swamp precinct’s polling site was moved from The Hilly Branch Career Center to the Southern Spirit Boys and Girls Club at 1872 Back Swamp Road in Lumberton; the Philadelphus polling site was moved from the Philadelphus Fire Department in Red Springs to the Lumbee Lodge of Philadelphus on Phildelphus Road in Pembroke; and the Saddletree site was moved from Piney Grove Elementary School to The Four Winds Community Center on Rennert Road near Lumberton.
Hal Kinlaw, county attorney, said that the main reason for the moves was to keep schools from being congested by voters.