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Fight Rages On Over Dallas County Elections Administrator

By Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News
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An pollster loads paper in a primary registration machine at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas on February 19, 2008. (credit: by Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

An pollster loads paper in a primary registration machine at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas on February 19, 2008. (credit: by Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The clash at Dallas County Commissioners Court continues over the sudden resignation of county elections administrator, Bruce Sherbet.

Many believe Sherbet was ousted by the political change of power within the court.  On Tuesday, those trying to get Sherbet back in some form hit another roadblock.

Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Party activists were disappointed when a largely symbolic effort to at least retain Sherbet as a consultant failed by a 3-2 vote along party lines.

“Bruce Sherbet has done an exemplary job,” Rev. William Lowell told the court.   Other speakers echoed his assessment and claimed Sherbet was the victim of a political power play.

“It is very disturbing to hear that Mr. Bruce Sherbet has resigned,” Beverly Whittington testified, adding, “As a past Democrat of this county, I feel that he was nudged out of his job; that begs this question, why?”

Others in the audience answered the question.  “Mr. Sherbet was a victim of political and character assassination to satisfy a blatantly partisan political agenda,” claimed Larry Wainer, who identified himself an elections judge.

Michael Porter of Garland was even more blunt.  “Sadly we have come to expect covert acts like the one used to remove Bruce Sherbet,” he claimed, adding, “Fair elections are a threat to this court’s agenda.”

Others suggested the court’s priorities are mislaid.  “Instead of turning your attention to the real problem of spending, you create a brand new problem where none existed,” claimed Russell Ramsland of Dallas.  “Now, I’ve been told the ‘fix’ is in,” he went on.  “Your decision may be made, but the ‘fix’ is just starting, and it’s sitting here right behind me,” he said, pointing to the protesters jammed into the courtroom.

County Judge Clay Jenkins, wheeled into court after breaking a leg in a fall last week, defended his position that all he originally wanted from Sherbet was an employee performance review, not a resignation.  “Could we have done this better?  I think we could have.   But I don’t want to mischaracterize that there was a conspiracy to oust Mr. Sherbet.  Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The current administrator, Toni Pippins-Poole, is an interim appointment.  Commissioners have been promised there will be a nationwide search for a permanent successor.

But the court must still approve Pippins-Poole next month, according to Commissioner Maurine Dickey; Dickey promises to fight it.  “I’m going to vehemently object to that, and I hope like-minded people will do that, too.   We can’t have the ‘fix’ in to get someone to resign so we can put someone else in.”

Late Tuesday Sherbet spoke to CBS 11 in a text message.  He said he’s ready to move on, and he wouldn’t want his old job back under the current circumstances.

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