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Election Commission interviews candidates for Administrator of Elections job

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Election Commission held a special meeting Friday to interview the two candidates currently up for the top job, Administrator of Elections.

For years, controversy has surrounded the commission almost every time voters head to the polls. Just this month, a misallocation of voting machines in the presidential primary led to extremely long wait time for thousands of voters.

Whomever the commission hires will replace former administrator Richard Holden, who retired at the end of last year, amid demands he be fired by State Representative G.A. Hardaway.

"We want somebody that has strong leadership skills, and yet at the same time, can engender some trust and confidence both among the staff, among the political parties, and the other stakeholders in the election process," said Election Commission Chairman Robert Meyers.

Commissioners heard from two candidates Friday.

Chris Thomas is a former Shelby County Commissioner and former probate clerk. He was fired as Lakeland's City Manager last January after a year on the job.

Thomas does not have experience running an election office.

"I feel like my background, 24 plus years of being an elected official here, I'm very concerned about the community. I know the Election Commission has had some struggles," he told WREG.

Next, the commissioners heard from Linda Phillips over the phone, a former county election administrator, then an assessor in Indiana.

She told commissioners she lost her most recent election attempt.

"I always strove to have everything ready for the election and have it tested one month out," she said of her election administrator experience.

In terms of next steps, the commissioners said they will likely meet with their attorney, review the two candidates, and decide if they need to look at other applicants.

While Meyers could not provide a clear timeline, he admitted it would be nice to have someone in place by the August election. He said whoever is hired will likely still be on a bit of a learning curve at that point.

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