Rhea election commission dismisses its administrator, Theresa Snyder

Rhea election commission dismisses its administrator, Theresa Snyder

May 10th, 2013 by Kimberly McMillian in Local Regional News

DAYTON, Tenn. - For Theresa Snyder, the instigation of her dismissal as Rhea County's election administrator was a methodical campaign that progressed over the past year, if not longer.

"The decision was already done," Snyder said of the county election commission's decision Wednesday to insist upon her resignation. The separation notice was prepared earlier, she said, and the dismissal was a formality.

Last month, election officials voted 4-1 for Snyder's dismissal after a motion by newly appointed Republican Commissioner Linda Pendergrass was seconded by new GOP member Skip Griffin. At that time she was given the option to resign. Pendergrass said the board needed to start with a new staff, but no request for Deputy Administrator Felicia Mills' dismissal was made.

Snyder is a registered Republican. Mills' political affiliation was unclear late Thursday.

Mills was appointed as interim administrator until the position is filled later this year. Snyder will receive about $26,000 representing unpaid vacation days, compensation time and sick days, officials said.

County Finance Director Bill Graham said officials might "fold [Snyder's remaining sick days] into her retirement." Graham said those estimates were calculated up to March 31, rather than up to the May 15 payroll.

Graham added that the election commission's budget was funded through property taxes, and that the cost of training a new administrator could be close to $20,000, as opposed to the $18,000 paid in 2009 to train Snyder.

Last July, Snyder came under scrutiny by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the media after complaints by Rhea County voters seeking to cast ballots in the race for state representative in the Aug. 2 GOP primary. Ron Travis defeated Rep. Jim Cobb in that contest.

Snyder said there was "a very concerted effort to change the integrity" of that election.

"I was appointed to hold a fair and honest election," she said, not to choose "which laws to follow."

She said it is "not fair for taxpayers to have to continue to pay the bills for political vendettas."

Democrats Kathleen Garrison and Hurley Marsh and Republican Dennis Tumlin comprise the remainder of the five-member election panel.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bellsouth.net.