Commission passes 'no confidence' vote for Holden - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Commission passes 'no confidence' vote for Holden

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

He's been under fire before, but a "no confidence" resolution passed by the Shelby County Commission this week has put the Richard Holden, the county election commission administrator, back under scrutiny.

That spotlight could intensify if the Memphis City Council decides to join in the call for his ouster.

The important elections in 2014 has some worried Holden may not be up to the challenge.

Talking with Holden on the phone I didn't get the feeling he was a man ready to throw in the towel as county election administrator. It's not like he hasn't had opportunities to do so. But with the county commission and possibly Memphis council openly questioning his performance the heat in the kitchen maybe growing hotter for his ouster.

On his way out the door, former county commissioner Wyatt Bunker, the new mayor of Lakeland, lit the match again under the feet of Holden.

"You look over the last four years, there's a side of me that says, 'Does the guy really deserve the job?,'" Mayor Bunker said. "I mean, does he deserve it? After everything he's put Shelby County through, does he deserve this position, and I say not."

But, could council be prepared to help fan the flames of discontent over Holden's job performance?

"I am going to obtain a copy of the county commission resolution and present it before the council," said Councilman Myron Lowery. "We'll see if there's any interest in doing this."

In a year in which nearly a dozen elections were conducted without any major problems, the timing of a "no confidence" in Holden's resolution, passed by the commission on a bi-partisan vote, would appear to be odd. But, it may jumpstart the dissatisfaction with the embattled administrator that dogged Holden and the election  commission through much of 2012 when voting irregularities brought howls from the electorate and bolstered efforts by the minority on the five member election commission to seek Holden's ouster.

"There have been two attempts by the Democrats minority on that body to fire him, to oust him from the position," said Bill Dries, Memphis Daily News reporter. "Both those efforts failed on a party-line vote."

When asked for his reaction to the "no confidence" commission vote, Holden forwarded FOX13 News to election commission chairman Robert Meyers, who insisted all of the previous problems found in a State audit have been corrected and Holden has already been disciplined.

"These elected officials should do what they think is right," said Meyers. "If they think this is right then I don't have any problem with that. The second thing is we just ran a whole series of elections in 2013 without any kind of systemic problems. So, therefore I'm not sure that else we can do."

But, with 2014 bringing county-wide elections that could produce one of the largest and longest ballots in history, Mayor Bunker thinks it's time to get someone else besides Holden to face the challenge. A bi-partisan vote on his resolution might mean he's not alone in his thinking.

"Some of the election commissioners say, 'Well, he's got all this knowledge, he's the only one in the county that can do this,'" the former county commissioner said. "Bull!"

"Should the city council pass a similar resolution? Perhaps, we'll see if other members of the council feel that it's necessary," Commissioner Lowery said. "They may feel that the county commission resolution is sufficient."

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