Arkansas elections board gets new chief

McKim led before in interim capacity

For the second time in two years, Heather McKim has been selected to oversee the office of the state Board of Election Commissioners, this time with a permanent appointment Monday.

McKim first served as the interim director of the commission for several months in 2016, after initially being hired as a deputy director. Keith Rutledge, the father of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, was eventually hired to fill the vacancy, until his retirement Friday.

During a conference call Monday, the seven-member commission unanimously tapped McKim to succeed Keith Rutledge.

A.J. Kelly, an attorney for the office of Secretary of State Mark Martin, the commission chairman, told the board before the vote that McKim had the right experience to lead the commission, which is tasked with monitoring elections and assisting local election officials.

"McKim's practically been serving in that capacity for some time now," Kelly said.

None of the commission members, including representatives appointed by both the state Republican and Democratic parties, objected to the hiring. McKim previously worked as a finance director for the Republican Party of Arkansas and as a city clerk in Bryant.

McKim, who attended the teleconference meeting as the deputy director, told the commissioners the opening for the director job had been advertised on the state's government jobs website for seven days in early March.

Office of Personnel Management rules require that most state government vacancies be posted for five days, and McKim noted that the job had been advertised for two extra days. She said 42 people applied for the job.

McKim told a reporter later she would earn the base salary of $69,776 as director. While working as a deputy director, she earned $58,845 a year, according to salary records.

Her predecessor, Rutledge, earned $71,007 as director, records show. Newspaper records show McKim also earned a salary equal to more than $70,000 a year during the two months she worked as interim director in 2016. Since then, McKim said, the base salary for the director's position was cut.

Monday's commission meeting was also the first for newly appointed Republican commissioner Bilenda Harris-Ritter, who was appointed last week by state GOP Chairman Doyle Webb.

Harris-Ritter replaced Stu Soffer of White Hall, who resigned his seat on the commission after a judge in Jefferson County ruled that he was ineligible to serve simultaneously as a state and county election commissioner.

Metro on 04/03/2018

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