Former Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Robyn Crittenden has been appointed secretary of state and will oversee the final count of votes for Georgia governor.
Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Crittenden on Nov. 8, within hours after Brian Kemp’s resignation from the office.
Kemp, who held the office of secretary of state while he ran for governor, declared himself winner of the race with Democrat Stacey Abrams. He said he was leaving the office to begin the transition to be governor.
Abrams, who has not conceded the election, and a host of civil and voting rights organizations had called on Kemp to resign as secretary of state during the campaign for the Nov. 6 election but he did not.
In the closely fought race, Kemp finished with 50.33 percent of the vote to Abrams' 48.73 percent.
Abrams contends that there are thousands of absentee and provisional paper ballots yet to be counted that could push the race into a runoff.
At a Nov. 8 press conference with Deal, Kemp said that on Nov. 6, he earned "a clear and convincing victory at the ballot box."
"Today we are beginning the transition process," he said. "We will work together in the days, weeks and months ahead to ensure a smooth transition that keeps our state on the path to prosperity, growth and opportunity."
Announcing Crittenden’s appointment to finish Kemp's term that ends Dec. 31, Deal said she will fill the vacancy “created by the resignation of Gov.-elect Brian Kemp."
Crittenden took the oath of office on Nov. 8, hours after Kemp's resignation at 11:59 a.m.
“Robyn’s experience as an attorney, public servant and agency head make her exceptionally qualified to fill the role of Georgia’s secretary of state,” Deal said. “She is a leader with brilliant intellect, high integrity, and a wide range of experience in public service.”
Deal said Crittenden has been one of the most effective leaders within his administration.
“She is well-qualified to fill one of the most important jobs in state government,” he said. “I appreciate her willingness to fill this role and I thank Gov.-elect Kemp for his leadership as secretary of state.”
Crittenden is the first African-American woman to serve as a statewide constitutional officer in Georgia history. In July 2015, Deal appointed her to be DHS commissioner after she served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Georgia Student Finance Commission.
Crittenden’s experience includes working as general counsel at Morehouse College and as the assistant vice chancellor of Legal Affairs-Contracts for the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
She is also a former DeKalb County assistant county attorney and was an associate at the law firm of Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy.
Crittenden has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University and a law degree from the University of Michigan School of Law. She has one child and lives in Tucker.
Following Crittenden’s swearing-in ceremony, Deal nominated Gerlda B. Hines, DHS chief of staff and chief financial officer, to be the interim DHS commissioner, pending board approval.