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Copeland to resign from Hall County Elections Board; Jones to replace him as 1 of 2 Democrats
101121017 ELECTIONS 1 Michelle Sanchez Jones
Michelle Sanchez Jones - photo by Nick Bowman

Kimberly Copeland is aiming to resign from the Hall County Elections Board, and he’s already found a replacement: Michelle Sanchez Jones.

Copeland fills a Democratic seat on the five-member board, which includes two Republicans, two Democrats and a nonpartisan chairman. The partisan members are appointed by their parties, and the chairman is appointed by the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

The board is responsible for elections policy in Hall County and helps run local, state and even federal elections in the county.

Copeland announced his intention to resign from the board at a meeting of the Hall County Democratic Party on Monday, saying that he hoped to appoint Sanchez Jones to replace him.

Copeland has been on the Elections Board for more than 10 years. He told the audience of the party meeting Monday that he had served on the Elections Board for long enough and that, now that the Hall County Democrats were expanding, it was a good time to find a replacement.

“I have been looking to resign from the board because we have a big party now,” Copeland told the group. “I don’t have to do everything.”

Sanchez Jones is a local activist who has participated in protests outside the office of Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, and volunteered on the Jon Ossoff campaign in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. She has three children and is married to Bobby Jones.

She unsuccessfully ran for state office in 2016 against Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gainesville, who won the race for the Georgia General Assembly seat by an almost 50 percent margin.

Sanchez Jones said the Hall County Democrats’ executive board voted to approve her appointment to the Elections Board during its Oct. 4 meeting.

She said the switch won’t take place until after municipal elections in November.

“I just want to ensure that the elections are fair and true,” Sanchez Jones said Tuesday.

She supports the board’s decision to adopt bilingual ballots for Spanish speakers, saying it was “great” and “inevitable with a growing Latino population.”

She was a critic of the Rev. Tom Smiley’s appointment as chairman of the board and, along with Copeland, spoke against the appointment in late July. Smiley isn’t a member of any political party but has made conservative statements on the radio and on his blog.

Even though she opposed his appointment, Sanchez Jones said she’s “nobody’s enemy.”

“I just want to make sure we have fair and accurate elections. I’ll work with anybody,” she said, but later noted Democrats “need to have somebody there who is going to make sure he is holding to what he promised, to hold that position in a nonpartisan manner.”

She said she’s “happy to be there as a check.”

When he was appointed, Smiley told The Times he would “just do my very, very best to represent all the people of Hall County the best way I can and will be as honest and fair and demonstrate as much integrity as possible.”

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