The board voted 5-0 Monday to accept Director Sam Westmoreland’s resignation, sent in an email dated Sept. 22 during a 10-day sentence in the Alpharetta city jail on “charges related to revocation of probation for earlier charges of driving under the influence,” according to the county.
“After much reflection, I believe it is in the department’s best interest to have a leader that enjoys the full support of this board as we move forward toward this important general election,” Westmoreland wrote.
The board also voted 5-0 at the North Fulton Government Service Center in Sandy Springs to promote the registration and election department’s second-in-command, Sharon Mitchell, to acting interim director while looking for a permanent replacement.
Although relatively new to the department — she arrived in February, one month before Westmoreland’s promotion from interim to permanent director — Mitchell said she can lead it.
“I have 20 years in election experience. I have government experience as well managing large systems that include people and preparations,” she said after the meeting. “I believe I come well-qualified to be at the helm at this time.”
District 2 at-large County Commissioner Robb Pitts said voter confidence will be restored.
“I think the action taken unanimously today is a huge step in the right direction to assure the public that we are doing the right thing,” he said.
Board chair Rod Edmond said the board was aware of Westmoreland’s DUI history dating back several years, but his performance after becoming interim director in July 2011 was exemplary.
“We were aware of DUIs before. The explanations that were given satisfied the board. I’m not giving the details of his medicine but, as I understand, his sentencing was complete,” Edmond said.
However, the board was blindsided by new allegations, including charges from Laurens County.
“Probably three or four weeks ago the board lost confidence in him and had discussions on a transition that was going to be less abrupt than this. Then last week we became aware of new information,” Edmond said. “That probation had been revoked from July 19, 2004, no one on the board knew about that. No one knew of the sentencing on Sept. 14. And no one knew he was in jail until we saw the mug shots.”