Election Administrator Keeps Job — For Now

A U.S. Federal Judge has approved a temporary order barring the Rutherford County Election Commission from firing Administrator of Elections Hooper Penuel.

Fired Cannon County Administrator of Elections Mary Lynn Bush is one of eight defendants who part of a federal lawsuit trying to get their jobs back.

The suit charges that newly appointed Republican-controlled Election Commissions singled out Administrators for partisan reasons.

County Election Administrators are appointed by local election commissions and state law required those commissions to have Republican majorities because the GOP gained control of the Legislature last year.

Some of those new commissioners have ousted Election Administrators who were appointed by commissions with Democratic majorities. In their lawsuit, the eight administrators say the moves are unlawful.

At a hearing Friday, July 17, U.S. District Judge John Nixon approved a temporary restraining order barring Rutherford’s commission from moving to fire Penuel

Other counties along with Cannon and Rutherford include: DeKalb, Weakley, Henry, Loudon, Putnam and Rhea. Penuel is only defendant in the lawsuit who still works but has been told his firing is imminent.

Mrs. Bush filed her lawsuit against the Cannon County Election Commission on June 19. She had served as Administrator of Elections from 2004 until her firing in April 2009. Cannon County’s newly appointed Republican-controlled Commission appointed Stanley Dobson on that date to replace Bush.

Bush’s complaint states that during her tenure as Aministrator of Elections, she performed her job and carried out the duties of the office with impartiality and in accordance with the law and the trust placed in her to be responsible for the daily operations and the execution of all elections.