State’s youngest commissioner resigns after 11 months

By BETH BUNCH,

Just 11 months after campaigning on the platform of bringing back new hope for fair election, District 1 Election Commissioner Tyler Wood has resigned his post. The resignation was accepted during Monday’s meeting of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors.

At the age of 18, Wood was the youngest commissioner ever to be sworn in in Mississippi.

Wood, a student at Pearl River Community College in Hattiesburg, beat six-term incumbent Charles Phillips by about 300 votes.

Wood posted a message on his Facebook page after lunch on Monday, thanking supporters who elected him to the position.

“I'm sorry to say that I have turned in my resignation papers this morning because of personal reasons,” Wood said in the statement. “I feel like it was God's will for me to get elected and defeat Charles Phillips and now I'm being called in a different direction. I am so grateful for all the support I have had throughout the year, y'all have been amazing.

“I know together we can still make Forrest County a better place for all, one position at a time. We have four good, hardworking election commissioners up there working for us.

“For those who think with me resigning this will cost the county extra money, that is false. A new election commissioner will be appointed by David Hogan and then next November (2018), an election will be held to determine who the next elected election commissioner of District 1 will be. I am so grateful for everyone's continued support and I will continue to be a active voice in the community. I wish the future election commissioner of District 1 well and may God bless all of y'all. Thank you.”

Wood campaigned on bringing back fair elections with his campaign signs stating, “New Hope for Fair Elections.” The former homeschooler said he became interested in the post while volunteering during the county primaries and serving alongside his mother, Ann Wood-Clark on the Forrest County Republication Executive Committee. And he credits his mom and stepdad with getting behind him, as well as the supporters who provided so much encouragement for him.

Early on in his campaign Wood vowed that if elected, “I guarantee not one box will go missing or be submitted late.”

It was during Wood’s time as a commissioner that the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance which prohibited the recording or transmission of executive sessions held by the Forrest County Board of Supervisors. The ordinance was proposed after Wood was removed from an executive session of the board on April 24, 2017, after admitting he was recording the meeting, in his words, “so I  can hear myself talk later today and hear what I needed to improve on, with how I placed my words.”

The ordinance passed at the June 19 meeting of the board and went into effect 30 days after a legal notice was published.

Election commissioners, who are required to work 130 days, with a five-hour a day minimum, said going to school and serving the people of the county shouldn’t be a problem.

“My school is lenient and I worked my schedule around my commissioner job,’ said Wood, who is studying to go into the ministry and attend seminary.

As a newly-election commissioner, Wood was required to attend ECAM 2017 Annual Elections Seminar and Certification Training and commissioner orientation training.

Board President David Hogan, who represents District 1 where Wood served as commissioner, said an interim would be appointed to the post until a special election can be held for a new commissioner.

He noted that other election commissioners would be filling in with District 1 making sure things run smoothly until an interim can be named.