Elections director challenges request for his termination

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New Hanover County Elections Director Marvin McFadyen has officially refuted the petition submitted to the N.C. State Board of Elections requesting his termination.

The petition, approved 2-1 by the New Hanover County Board of Elections on Jan. 7, criticizes McFadyen’s management style and work performance and lists his Nov. 15 arrest as grounds to remove him from his position. The response, filed by McFadyen’s lawyer, tackles each paragraph in the 44-page long petition to remove McFadyen, arguing many are “not entirely true” or “misleading and untrue.”

McFadyen defended his performance as elections director and called Ferrante “very forceful” and “stubborn” and said he “has consistently interfered with the operations of the County Board of Elections office” in his sworn statement included in the response. He suggested Ferrante forced or solicited the unflattering accounts of his performance included in the petition for his removal.

“I have no doubt that Mr. Ferrante has encouraged the staff to say or invent things that pleased him. I further believe that he wrote, or provided support for, the letter signed by staff members,” McFadyen said.

McFadyen also questioned the relationship between Ferrante and board secretary Marlene Mitchell, citing their shared connection to Roger Bacon Academy, the for-profit charter school management company owned by Mitchell’s husband that oversees a school for which Ferrante serves as chairman of the board.

A sworn statement from board member Tannis Nelson, included in McFadyen’s response, corroborated “tension and a clash of personalities” between McFadyen and Ferrante. Nelson said the petition to remove McFadyen is not “proper,” and that neither she nor Mitchell knew about the petition until the day before the board considered it. McFadyen should not be relieved of his duties, she continued, although she said she was concerned about his arrest on allegations of assault on a female.

Staff photo by Miriah Hamrick. Board member Tannis Nelson, left, opposed a petition to remove Elections Director Marvin McFadyen from office during a Jan. 7 meeting of the New Hanover County Board of Elections. Chairman John Ferrante, center, and Secretary Marlene Mitchell, right, approved the petition.

Staff photo by Miriah Hamrick. Board member Tannis Nelson, left, opposed a petition to remove Elections Director Marvin McFadyen from office during a Jan. 7 meeting of the New Hanover County Board of Elections. Chairman John Ferrante, center, and Secretary Marlene Mitchell, right, approved the petition.

“I do not contend Mr. McFayden [sic]is perfect and there are some areas where I believe he can improve,” Nelson said, but, she continued, “… I believe Mr. McFadyen has more than adequately performed many of his duties and his experience and proven abilities are assets to the County Board of Elections.”

McFadyen pledged to clear up the flurry of controversy that has fallen upon the elections board if the state elections board upholds his employment.

“I deeply regret what is occurring in New Hanover County and I take personally all election conflicts and issues and will work to resolve them,” McFadyen said.

McFadyen’s response also included two letters attesting to his competency, one signed by members of the previous elections board — past chair Tommy Guinn, past secretary Geneva Reid and past member Bill Kopp — responsible for his hire, and another from elections directors and officials from Lenior, Pamlico, Onslow, Craven and Greene counties. The letters of support from the previous elections board and other elections directors in the area were unsolicited, McFadyen said in his statement.

McFadyen remains a county employee until a decision comes down from the state elections board by Feb. 17, but he has worked from home since Jan. 7.

Also awaiting resolution by the state board of elections are complaints about Ferrante’s performance as chairman.

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