The best word to characterize Dock Locklear’s six-plus years as supervisor of the Robeson County Elections Office might be uneventful.
And that would be hefty praise. An elections supervisor, like a football referee, is best unnoticed — and the soft-spoken Locklear managed that, for the most part anyway, pretty well.
Locklear this week announced he was retiring, effective at the end of the year. The local Board of Elections is tentatively scheduled to meet next week to appoint someone to fill the position on an interim basis.
Locklear, who is 67 years old, said it was time for him to move on. Perhaps he thought he was on the clock as Pat McCrory, the governor-elect and a Republican, will flip the power switch on the Elections Board next year, giving clout to the GOP, which might want its own man or woman as supervisor.
When he made his decision public, Locklear stepped a bit out of character, taking a parting shot at the county Board of Commissioners for not coming up with the money for a new elections office and technology improvements, which Locklear said had been on his to-do list. It’s the Christmas season, so we want to be charitable, but there’s an elephant in the room: While needs aren’t met at the Elections Office, the commissioners continue to enjoy an oversized check, lavish benefits and a bloated discretionary fund as we head into a new year.
His tenure was not without the occasional hiccup. More than once there were charges of elections fraud, most notably in a City Council race a few years back that was settled during a do-over, but those allegations aren’t unique to Robeson County and are mostly beyond the election’ supervisor’s reach.
The biggest bump was a rebuke by the state Election Office for not getting absentee ballots out in a timely fashion before this year’s May primary. Locklear pleaded guilty and worked overtime to undo the damage.
This newspaper appreciated our relationship with Locklear, who was always quick to return phone calls, answer questions and was proactive in getting information to us for publication that would benefit the voting public.
He supervised the Elections Office for two presidential elections when voting was historically heavy, and during a time that early voting exploded. He also managed to avoid the political battles that nag this county, giving voters confidence that their vote would be easily cast and correctly counted.
Locklear’s successor will do well to claim the same.