Tarrant County has come calling for Denton County Elections Administrator Frank Phillips and he has answered.
Phillips, who has been with the county for 18 years in a number of positions, will leave his latest post on Aug. 15 to become the elections administrator in Tarrant County.
“I loved working for Denton County. It’s like leaving family,” Phillips said.
His departure comes about 2 1/2 months before the Nov. 4 general election, which could see a large turnout in Denton County with several local items on the ballot, including whether or not to ban hydraulic fracturing within the city limits of Denton.
Phillips said he is leaving the office in good hands with his staff, which includes Deputy Elections Administrator Kerry Martin. But should the county not have someone in place as elections administrator by the time of the general election in November, Phillips is on standby to help.
“The good news is [Tarrant] County Judge Glen Whitely was emphatic that until a replacement is found for me in Denton County, if need be, I can assist,” Phillips said. “As he said, we’re neighbors and we want to keep each other happy.”
Phillips began working for Denton County as a deputy constable in Precinct 3.
He then worked as chief administrator for former Precinct 3 Commissioner Scott Armey before working for County Judge Mary Horn as director of administration.
He has served as Denton County elections administrator since 2009.
Phillips accepted the job last week and turned in his letter of resignation Monday morning.
“The job in itself is the same. The good thing is the similarities between Tarrant and Denton [counties] are extensive,” he said. “They use the same type of equipment and voter registration software, so I am already familiar with the way they conduct business.”
Phillips said the main difference is the scale, with Tarrant County having three times the registered voters as Denton County.
Horn said she hates to lose Phillips, noting that he has done a good job for Denton County and has established great credibility in the elections office.
“We have as of Monday posted the position,” Horn said. “I know there is a Web net of elections administrators across the state, and word is going out on that.”
Horn said that by law an elections committee will make a recommendation to Commissioners Court for the next elections administrator.
That committee will be made up of Sheriff William Travis, Tax Assessor/Collector Michelle French, County Clerk Cynthia Mitchell, Phyllis Wolper, chairwoman of the Denton County Democratic Party, and Dianne Edmondson, chairwoman of the Denton County Republican Party.
“As the applications come in, we will be dispersing them to all members of the committee and narrow down to the ones they want to come in and interview,” Horn said. “I have no idea if that will be one person or five people, but we will see. We want to get this process going as quickly as possible.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.