By JUDY SHERIDAN
Calling the decision a “consensus” — agreed to by members of the Parker County Election Commission as well as himself — Parker County Elections Administrator Robert Parten stepped down from his post Tuesday, a day after meeting with the commission in closed session.
His retirement came 10 days after the May 10 general election and during early voting for the May 27 runoff election.
“I’ve probably stayed on longer than I should,” said Parten, initially employed by the county six years ago to do a job part-time for a few months. “All agreed it was time for me to go.”
Parten said members of the election commission — which include Chair Parker County Judge Mark Riley, Tax Assessor-Collector Marjorie King, County Clerk Jeane Brunson, Parker County Republican Party Chair Zan Prince and Parker County Democratic Party Chair Penny McCool — discussed “a few things that have happened over the past several years” during the executive session.
“I think they were things I wasn’t totally responsible for, but being the department head, it’s my responsibility,” he said.
One of those things, Parten explained, took place during the 2010 redistricting.
“It had to do with people who were placed in the wrong place,” he said. “They weren’t eligible to vote in one district, and they should have been able to.”
He declined to comment on the others.
Parten has really enjoyed his job in Parker County, he said, but doesn’t want to work for people who don’t appreciate what he does.
His employment began in 2008, after retiring as the top administrator for the Tarrant County Elections Office — a post he held for decades.
Parker County Republican Party Chair Zan Prince said the elections commission does not discuss anything done in closed session and took no action once the closed session concluded.
When asked if any of the issues talked over with Parten could have influenced past election results, she said the elections process has many checks and balances.
“I don’t have any concerns about the outcome of Parker County elections,” she said.
County Assistant Elections Administrator Laura Watkins said Parten told employees Monday afternoon that he was retiring.
She said she didn’t know of any election issues.
“Everybody’s canvassed, done all their stuff and put their elections to bed,” she said.
In 2011 Garner ISD considered suing the Parker County Elections Office after a bond election failed by two votes and the district found cases of “ineligible voters casting ballots,” according to the Weatherford Democrat.
The referendum would have passed had the ballots — cast by those in Peaster ISD — not been included, the article states, the result of a clerical error.
An oversight in an election in 2012 led to incomplete ballots being provided to two Springtown area voters, according to the Democrat, an issue the elections office quickly corrected.
Watkins has been named interim elections administrator, at her current salary level.
A job description for the position will be posted and remain open until the job is filled, the elections commission decided Thursday.