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Phyllis Wheeler resigns as elections director

Phyllis Wheeler is moving and leaving behind the job she currently has as director of the McDuffie County Board of Elections, The McDuffie Mirror has learned.

Ms. Wheeler, who has held the position since 2006, announced her resignation during an elections board meeting on Monday afternoon.

She will be assuming a similar position in DeKalb County on Monday, May 3. There, Ms. Wheeler will oversee a staff of 14 employees in a county that has a population of more than 670,000 residents and incorporates eight communities.

"I've done a lot of thinking about this and I think this is the best thing for me," Ms. Wheeler told the newspaper. "This is going to be a big step for me and I'm looking very forward to it."

Steve Strouble, a member of the local elections board, told Ms. Wheeler, "I want to commend you for the job you've done. I hate to see you go, but I understand."

Mr. Strouble represents the Democratic Party of McDuffie County. The representative of the Republican Party of McDuffie County, Peggy Lovejoy, also attended the meeting, which was presided over by Mr. Strouble, who serves as vice-chairman. Bill Beckum, the chairman of the local elections board, did not attend Monday's meeting.

Following the elections board meeting, Ms. Wheeler immediately tendered her letter of resignation to McDuffie County Manager Don Norton and Human Resources Director Ruthie Thomas. She also forwarded all five county commissioners with a copy.

"After careful thought and deliberation, to be effective at the close of the qualifying period on the 30th day of April, 2010, I resign my position as election superintendent of McDuffie County," Ms. Wheeler wrote. "I appreciate and cherish the trust and relationships I have established with the voters and elected officials of this county, but I feel it is time for me to move on. I have always done my best to maintain my office and represent this county in an outstanding manner. I appreciate the fact that my work was regarded enough that I was asked to return and I know that I have done my job well, but it is time for me to leave you."

Ms. Wheeler will begin her new job on Monday, May 3.

Ms. Wheeler, a Thomson resident for several years, applied and was hired to become elections superintendent for the Clarke County Board of Elections in Athens several years ago. When that job didn't work out, she returned to her former job here in Thomson, where she has worked since. Her first stint with McDuffie County began in 1991 and went through 2002 - the time she left to go to Athens.

She became elections superintendent of Clarke County -- a position she held for only a few months before deciding to assume a position with the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta. She worked as a graduate medical advisor overseeing eight want-to-be doctors in the Pulmonary Department. She was at MCG for nearly four years.

Ms. Wheeler later received telephone calls from McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton and Board of Elections Chairman Bill Beckum that they would like her to become superintendent of county elections again. She returned to the post and has been there since.

She was one of 20 candidates to apply and among 10 of them to actually be interviewed for the job in DeKalb County.

"I felt I had the job immediately after the interview," Ms. Wheeler said. "I just felt confident in that God was opening new doors in my life."

Ms. Wheeler, who is raising her 3-year-old grandson, Jarrell, said she will be enrolling him in Advance Preparatory Academy. They will live in a suburb of DeKalb County known as Lithonia.

Ms. Wheeler grew up in Thomson and is a 1968 graduate of R.L. Norris High School. Following graduation, she attended Fort Valley State University for a year before transferring to Paine College in Augusta. During her junior year at Paine, she was an exchange student, studying in Paris, France. She graduated in 1972 with a degree in Sociology.

She later earned a bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis in management. In addition, she also later earned a master's degree in business administration.

Ms. Wheeler, who has two grown children, Marcus Wheeler, of Thomson and Shonda Wheeler, of Houston, Texas, said she will miss Thomson, but is looking forward to making new friends in DeKalb County.

"Thomson will always be my home and I'll come back for visits from time to time," she said.

During her years as a resident of McDuffie County, Ms. Wheeler has been most active in Springfield Baptist Church. She has been a member there since 1966. She plans to attend a Baptist church in DeKalb County once she gets settled.

Ms. Wheeler said she will maintain the philosophy she has always held true to her heart when she leaves Thomson.

"Always do the best you can and the best will come your way," she said.

Web posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010

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