Veteran election staffer now director

By: T.C. Hunter - Managing editor

LUMBERTON — When the Robeson County Board of Elections meets Tuesday it will do so with a new director, a person who has about 25 years of experience working for the board.

Tina Bledsoe has been chosen to fill the position that was left open by the retirement in early August 2018 of then Director G.L Pridgen. Bledsoe has been serving as interim director since Pridgen walked away.

The county board told Bledsoe on Jan. 21 that the job was hers if she wanted it. She said yes.

“It was a unanimous decision by the board, and I wouldn’t have accepted if it wasn’t,” Bledsoe said Friday.

But the hiring didn’t become official until Jan. 24 when State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell approved it.

“I’ve got a lot of people thinking it was a long time coming,” Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe started as a part-time staffer in the Elections Board office on April 26, 1994. She became a full-time employee on Sept. 1, 1998. During her time with the office she has served as interim director twice. The first time was for the entire year of 2013. The second time was from August 2018 until she was hired as director.

To win the director’s job, Bledsoe had to outlast 18 initial applicants. Most of the applications came from inside Robeson County, but others from outside the county and outside the state.

“Pretty much all over,” Bledsoe said. “I’m looking at one and this one has a Texas address.”

The Elections Board conducted two rounds of interviews. The first was in the fall, and three people were interviewed.

“Then they ran it again because they found none of those three were suitable,” Bledsoe said.

The second round of interviews was conducted in January.

“I was the only applicant for the second round,” Bledsoe said.

Her salary has not been established.

Pridgen’s salary was $52,480 a year at the time of his retirement. The salary included in the job advertisement posted in October 2018 was $48,103.02, but that could be the base salary, and the actual salary offered to Bledsoe could be more.

Calls to Elections Board Chairman Larry Townsend were not returned before deadline Friday.

“My objective is to serve the people of Robeson County,” she said. “I have been serving them basically my entire adult life.”

She plans to do all she can to ensure that elections in Robeson County are fair, transparent and honest, Bledsoe said.

The new director takes the Elections Board helm during a busy time.

The office conducted five elections in 2019. Then the staff moved into the filing period for the 2020 election cycle, then got ballots drawn up and approved and now are conducting One-stop voting for the March 3 primary.

“As I like to say, we’re busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest,” she said laughing. “I don’t think you can get busier than that.”

T.C. Hunter

Managing editor

Reach T.C. Hunter by email at [email protected] or by calling 910-816-1974.

Reach T.C. Hunter by email at [email protected] or by calling 910-816-1974.