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Commissioners approve new rules for selecting vice-chairman
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When Effingham County commissioners choose a vice-chairman Tuesday, they will use a different method to conduct and announce their votes.

The incoming board of commissioners will have its choice for vice-chairman read aloud, after the previous board adopted a new set of rules and procedures at its final meeting.

“We’ll announce how each commissioner voted for vice-chair,” said county clerk Patrice Crawley.

Under the new rules, the chairman will open the floor for nominations for vice-chairman. Commissioners then each will fill out a written ballot and sign it, returning it to the county clerk. The clerk will read each vote aloud, and the written ballots will be entered into the minutes.

Commissioners first broached the subject at their Nov. 18 meeting, before agreeing to the changes at their Dec. 11 meeting.

“I remember we talked about that it would be better to do nominations first, if someone wasn’t comfortable and wouldn’t want to accept the nomination,” said Commissioner Steve Mason. “My opinion is that we should vote in a written ballot, and then read it out.”

Commissioner Vera Jones noted at the Nov. 18 meeting that, during an Association of County Commissioners of Georgia training session, Effingham County was displayed for having a written ballot method of choosing a vice-chairman.

“And it was a no-no,” she said. “And I know it was because our names weren’t signed to it. I didn’t like getting humiliated at ACCG, I can tell you that.”

Mason said reading aloud the votes and how each commissioner voted should address those concerns.

“I think we need to have a ballot, and so it’s not secret, it needs to be read aloud,” he said.

Mason also has expressed his worries over a roll-call vote, mentioning that a commissioner could change their vote depending on how the vote was proceeding.

“That’s why I say we should vote like we do in a ballot box and sign it and turn it in,” he said. “You should write it down, with your name on it, and then tally it and read it aloud.”

Other changes adopted include limiting public comments on commissioners’ meeting agenda items to five minutes, and speakers are limited to one turn at the podium, unless otherwise requested to speak again by the commissioners. The commissioners also have the right to remove anyone who make inappropriate or offensive comments or intentionally cause a disruption.

Commissioners also approved a procedure that allows commissioners or the county administrator to place items on the agenda before the deadline to assemble the agenda. Those items, with supporting documents, need to be in the county clerk’s hands before noon 12 calendar days before the intended meeting.

Also, commissioners who approve minutes of executive session meetings must sign those minutes.