[This story has been updated to amend the quote from Darlene Ewing.]
A passionate group of approximately 100 election judges, precinct chairs and other folks from all sides of the political spectrum chanted "We want Bruce back! We want Bruce back!" as the Dallas County Election Commission met behind closed doors this afternoon to determine the next elections administrator following the abrupt resignation of Bruce Sherbet. Sherbet retired after Commissioner John Wiley Price told him in a private meeting that he had been at his position long enough.
When the commission emerged after discussing the issue for more than an hour, longtime Assistant Elections Administrator Toni Pippens-Poole had been named temporary administrator in a 4-1 vote, with her evaluation to occur no more than 30 days after May's municipal elections.
"It was a complete railroad. A complete railroad," Dallas County Republican Party chair and committee member Jonathan Neerman told Unfair Park afterward. "They knew when they were going in that they were going to appoint Toni Pippens-Poole."
Dallas County Judge and committee member Clay Jenkins told reporters that Sherbet hadn't contacted him about the meeting or his resignation, claiming he read about Sherbet's decision to bolt in the newspaper. He said the meeting was called to review Sherbet's performance, but because Sherbet resigned, the committee was forced to appoint his replacement.
"I wish Mr. Sherbet well in his endeavors," he said. "I thank him for his service to the county."
Jenkins stressed that he believes strongly in performance reviews, and said he expressed to Sherbet the he "had some areas that I thought we should focus on" in a December meeting.
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With an angry crowd of Sherbet supporters packed inside the commissioners court waiting to hear from Jenkins, he darted out the back door without making a public appearance.
Democratic Party chair and committee member Darlene Ewing said Sherbet wouldn't have been fired at the meeting. She also said Sherbet had a target on his back.
"I only know what the judge has told me, which is: 'I never put out an agenda that his job was under attack. All I wanted was a review of the Elections Department by a committee that hasn't met in 24 years. And then he suddenly resigns. Why is he afraid to come in and have us review his performance in the Elections Department?'"
Neerman, the only vote cast against Pippens-Poole, told reporters that he finds it "shameful" that Jenkins or anyone else would blame Sherbet. He also said two votes were taken before Pippens-Poole was appointed. The first motion was to open the meeting to the public, and the second was to appoint Sherbet as elections administrator. Both failed with 3-2 votes, with Neerman and Ewing voting in favor of both.