A new era started at the Northumberland County Board of Supervisors meeting in Heathsville Thursday as Tom Tomlin was elected chairman of the Board and James Long was elected vice-chairman. They replaced Ronnie Jett and Richard Haynie who had served in the positions for many years.
The election was the first order of business on the Board’s agenda. Long nominated Tomlin and Jett nominated Haynie for chairman. Tomlin won on a vote of 3-2 with newly installed supervisor James Brann voting for him with himself and Long. Tomlin then nominated Long for the vice-chairmanship and Jett nominated Haynie. Long was elected with the same votes as Tomlin had been.
Tomlin’s election was a notable political comeback. Earlier in 2019 the county Republican party had declined to re-nominate Tomlin who had been elected earlier with the party’s support. Instead, the party nominated Al “Junior” Fisher. Tomlin, running as an independent with help from the county’s Democrats, defeated Fisher. Thus, Thursday night he went from a Republican reject to chairman of the board.
Joe Schlatter, secretary of the county’s electoral board, reported to the supervisors that on what he said were four bits of good news and one bit of bad. The good news, he said included the county’s having a 58 per cent turn-out in last November’s election while across the state turn-out was at 44 per cent. Turn-out was up even in District 3 where the electoral board feared that the consolidation of voting places into a single place would cause a drop off.
Schlatter noted that the new electronic poll books for which the county paid $12,000 worked “100 percent perfect.” He pointed out, too that the county’s voting method is not connected to the Internet in any way and thus cannot be hacked as happened in other places in the 2016 election.
Before turning to the bad news, Schlatter wanted to publicly thank Curtis Albright for his help in setting up and taking down the county’s five polling places. Albright’s help was indispensable, he said.
The bad news is that the General Assembly will, in all liklihood pass a law allowing early voting starting 45 days before the actual election day. That will oblige Northumberland to set up a polling place with a staff of four during that period which will cost from $600 to $800 daily. Thus, the electoral board’s budget will balloon from $55,000 to as much as $125,000 depending on how many elections there are in a given year. Schlatter noted that there are a couple of bills that would require the state to pay the new expenses but, “Good Luck with that.”
The Supervisors passed a resolution thanking Nancy VanLandingham for her eight years service as a member the county’s social services administrative board. Tomlin pointed out that VanLandingham is from a family of dedicated pubic servants and is leaving the board because of term limits.
Following a public hearing at which nobody spoke, the Supervisors also authorized the creation of a county broadband authority that will be charged with doing all possible to improve internet service in the county.