ELIZABETHTOWN - Lewis Sanders is resigning as Essex County's Republican election commissioner.
In a letter addressed to county Board of Supervisors Clerk Deb Palmer, Sanders wrote that his doctor had recommended he retire and avoid any exposure to stress. He has been on sick leave since August 2009 but wrote that "thanks to the excellent medical care I am receiving, I am feeling better."
His retirement will take effect Feb. 15. Sanders wrote that he would make himself available to his successor to allow for a smooth transition.
Sanders, who has been on the county Republican committee for 40 years, had been under investigation since July 2009 for allegedly signing a designation petition for Henry Hommes for sheriff that he didn't witness. In court papers filed October 2009, Sanders denied criminal wrongdoing and petitioned to have then-District Attorney Julie Garcia, who was being challenged by Republican Kristy Sprague, removed from the case. Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Jack Delehanty was appointed special prosecutor; Sprague went on to win the election. Delehanty said Tuesday afternoon there were no charges pending against Sanders, as far as he was aware.
It is now up to the county Republican committee to choose Sanders' successor. Committee Chairman Ron Jackson, of Essex, said Derinda Sherman, of Westport, was the only person interested as far as he knew; others had talked about seeking the position but decided against it, Jackson said. Sherman was deputy Republican election commissioner briefly in December, after Patti Doyle announced she would be resigning to take a job in Sprague's office, but had to leave that position at the time for family reasons.
The deputy Republican election commissioner now is Shona Doyle, Patti Doyle's sister-in-law. Sanders appointed her; commissioners appoint their deputies, under state law.
The county Republican committee will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the supervisors' chambers in Elizabethtown, Jackson said, and Sanders' successor will be one of the items discussed. If the committee members agree on a candidate, they would then send the name to the board's Republican caucus to accept or reject. They usually caucus on this before or after board committee meetings, Jackson said. They can then put their choice before the full board for approval, if they choose.
"They normally do this as a courtesy, but in the past there have been occasions where that hasn't happened," Jackson said.
If the Republican supervisors reject the nominee, it goes back to the committee.
Sanders didn't return a call for comment Tuesday.
Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or