A Pike County pollworker complained Wednesday that he was unfairly dismissed after a photo of him posing with a candidate showed up on the Internet.
Clifton McGowan told county supervisors that someone took a photo of him with District 98 House of Representatives candidate Daryl Porter Jr. and posted it on Facebook without his knowledge. A county election commissioner then told him he could not serve as a pollworker.
Porter is running against Tasha Dillon for the seat vacated by David Myers.
McGowan said McComb Mayor Quordiniah Lockley invited him to the event, which included dinner. McGowan said he attended for the food, not because he supports any particular candidate.
But someone took his photo standing with Porter and posted it on Facebook.
“If you got a picture of somebody, that’s no reason to be kicked aside,” McGowan said.
Former commissioner Robert Accardo, who is a candidate for District 3 supervisor and attended Wednesday’s supervisors meeting, said the commission has the authority to dismiss pollworkers. “You cannot take part in a campaign; you cannot take part in a party fundraiser,” Accardo said.
Supervisor Gary Honea said he thinks the commission made the wrong call in this instance.
“It comes down to good sound judgment,” Honea said, noting McGowan attends numerous civic functions.
Questioned after the meeting, commission chairperson Trudy Berger said pollworkers are taught during training that any appearance of supporting a candidate is not allowed, whether putting up signs, posing in photos or videos, or wearing campaign T-shirts.
“When they become publicly active in that, it makes it impossible for us to use them,” she said.
Berger said District 98 is especially sensitive since a prior election there resulted in a lawsuit between Dillon and Myers.
“We’re not going to take that risk,” Berger said, adding the commission may reinstate McGowan in future elections.
In other business Wednesday, supervisors:
• Noted the resignation of Ben Gilbert Jr. as special county prosecutor for justice and youth courts. Board president Chuck Lambert said county prosecutor David Brewer will recommend a replacement.
• Approved payment of Neel-Schaffer invoices for the month of June totaling $39,716.
• Authorized the tax collector to destroy old car tags.
• Received the 2018 audit of the Pike County Economic Development District.
• Noted the receipt of an additional $942 from an emergency management grant to the civil defense department for a computer and printer.
• Approved a $1,300 budget amendment to hire a part-time worker for the Department of Human Services in August and September.
• Noted the receipt of a $6,795 Click-it-or-Ticket grant from the Department of Public Safety for the sheriff’s office.