With less than six months before District voters go to the polls, the city’s election board has a new top administrator.
Clifford D. Tatum, an Atlanta-based elections consultant, has been selected by Board of Elections and Ethics members to take over the agency three months after the resignation of its previous executive director.
Paul E. Stenbjorn, who has served as interim executive director since Rokey W. Suleman II stepped down in July, confirmed the hire today. Stenbjorn said he is leaving to run American operations for Scytl, a Spanish company specializing in election technology.
In a brief interview this afternoon, Tatum said he expects to start Oct. 27.
Tatum is a former interim elections administrator for the Georgia state government. He has worked as a consultant for the D.C. board, serving on a task force that reviewed irregularities in the city’s 2008 primary and otherwise assisting the board in its dealings with the federal government. Stenbjorn said Tatum was a finalist in the board’s last executive search, which led to Suleman’s 2009 hire.
Stenbjorn said Tatum is well equipped to take over election operations so close to the April 3, 2012, primary.
“We feel extremely confident in the processes we have put in place already for April,” he said. “With Cliff’s familiarity with the District, he will be able to move into this role seamlessly.”
Tatum’s hire comes as the board finds itself in some upheaval. Mayor Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) appointed three new members of the board last month to replace Chairman Togo D. West Jr. and member Charles R. Lowery Jr. But Gray withdrew his choice for chairman, Robert L. Mallett, after it was revealed he had recently moved back to the city, making him ineligible under city law. His other picks, Devarieste Curry and Stephen I. Danzansky, await D.C. Council confirmation.
D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who oversees the election board, said she supported West’s pick. “Obviously we don’t like to see any change this close to an election, but Secretary West seems to be confident in him moving forward,” she said. Tatum’s hire is at the board’s discretion and is not confirmed by the D.C. Council.
Asked if she thought the new board member should have made the hire, Bowser said, “I don’t think you could do that given the proximity for the election.”