Wyrick resigns election board

Candidacy forces departure

The Republican representative on the Pulaski County Election Commission resigned this week after entering the race for county judge, but the election director believes the commission will proceed with forthcoming meetings without him.

Phil Wyrick, 64, filed as a candidate for Pulaski County judge Thursday afternoon and said he notified the Pulaski County Republican Committee earlier in the day that it would need to appoint a replacement for him on the commission.

According to state law, Wyrick disqualified himself from his position as commissioner once he filed for office in Pulaski County.

Wyrick said Friday that he had been thinking about running for county judge during the six years since his last campaign for the seat in 2008, but he did not decide for certain until Thursday morning after the Republican Party’s other announced candidate, Steve Teske, informed party officials that he would not run.

Today, the commission will discuss whether to sue the state Board of Election Commissioners over its decision Friday to allow an extended period for absentee voters to submit identification omitted from already turned in ballots.

The commission would seek a declaratory judgment on whether the policy is legal. The events come after the commission received an opinion from the Arkansas attorney general’s office last week that advised such a policy would not be legal.

On Tuesday, the commission meets again to review political practice pledges from all candidates in this year’s county elections.

“We basically just have to proceed with who we’ve got,” county Election Director Bryan Poe said.

Poe said he believes the county’s Republican committee was expediting its search for a replacement in time for forthcoming commission meetings and the election, but he believes business can still go on as usual - even if the group is one member short.

“I’m not aware at this time of anything that would prevent us from moving forward,” he said.

The Election Commission is made up of three commissioners, one Republican and two Democrats who represent the minority and majority political parties in Pulaski County.

Commission Chairman Leonard A. Boyle and Commissioner Chris Burks are Democrats.

The Pulaski County Republican Committee must vote to appoint Wyrick’s replacement within 45 days of his resignation, or the state chairman of the Republican Party will appoint one, according to state law.

In 2010, Wyrick resigned from the commission after his wife, Little Rock Director B.J. Wyrick, filed for re-election. The county’s Republican Committee temporarily replaced Wyrick, who re-assumed his position after the general election.

Poe said Friday that the replacement will be permanent this time.

Arkansas, Pages 9 on 03/01/2014