BENTONVILLE — Benton County Republican Party officials will be taking nominations to fill a vacancy on the Election Commission, which opened when Commissioner Mike Sevak resigned May 29.
Sevak told the other commissioners and the election staff he was leaving May 29 after the commission completed a recount in the Republican Party primary race for the state House District 90.
Sevak didn’t respond to messages seeking comment on his resignation. Russ Anzalone, commission chairman, and Robbyn Tumey, the Democratic party representative on the commission, said Sevak has had difficulty attending daytime meetings while operating his lawn care and landscaping business.
“That’s been public around the commission for awhile now,” Tumey said.
Tumey said she valued Sevak’s knowledge of election laws and his willingness to speak his mind.
“I’m going to miss Mike,” she said. “He always had an opinion, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Scott Brownell, chairman of the Republican Party of Benton County, said the party will fill the seat on the commission at its biennial meeting June 25.
“Our process is simply to fill the vacancy through open nomination,” Brownell said. “It’s a pretty straightforward process and procedure.”
Under Arkansas law, each election commission is made up of representatives from the two major political parties. The party holding a majority of the state’s seven constitutional offices selects the third member. Commissions oversee the elections in each of the state’s 75 counties, including setting election dates and approving polling places. In Benton County, commissioners are paid $125 per meeting.
Anzalone said he would like to see the party select someone who has experience working in elections. He said he came onto the commission with no experience and quickly found there was much to learn. He said former Chairman John Brown was quick to help.
“For the first six months or so that I was on the commission, I pretty much did what John told me to do,” Anzalone said.
Tumey agreed whoever is nominated to serve the remainder of Sevak’s term, which runs through the end of this year, will have much to learn. She said there is time before the November general election for that process to begin.
“There is a lot of law you need to know,” she said. “It’s going to be a steep climb between now and November. Thankfully we’ve got a really good staff who will be able to help with that.”
Tom Sissom can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NWATom.