Former Washington, DC, elections director to oversee Richland County elections

Rokey Suleman
Rokey Suleman

The former director of elections for the nation’s capital now will manage the once-embattled, still controversial Richland County elections office.

Rokey W. Suleman will replace retiring elections director Samuel Selph starting May 1.

The Richland County Elections & Voter Registration commission voted Thursday to hire Suleman.

In 2009, Suleman stepped in to manage a rapid overhaul of the Washington, D.C., elections process after a messy 2008 election cycle – not entirely unlike the debacle Richland County voters faced four years later in 2012.

Since the infamous 2012 election, the Richland County office has worked to regain respect and stability, though it has struggled with turnover in its leadership, some legal challenges, budget issues and tension with County Council, which funds the state-mandated agency.

Having kept up with the saga of Richland County elections for years – his parents have lived in Irmo for two decades – Suleman said he expects the office to “(give) me enough challenges to satisfy my professional development.”

But, he said, he sees a world of opportunities ahead.

“My goal is to have Richland County be one of the people (national leaders are) looking to for examples of how to do things right,” Suleman said shortly after his hiring was announced by the elections commission.

Suleman will enter a two-year contract as director, starting with the same $79,800 salary as outgoing director Selph through the end of the budget year in June. He was chosen from more than 15 candidates, commission members said.

Suleman also is a member of American MENSA, an organization for high-IQ individuals, according to his resume.

“With his body of skills ... he could do a lot for Richland County,” commission chairwoman Adell Adams said.

Suleman will oversee a roughly $1.2 million budget and elections for some 259,000 voters in Richland County. It’ll be a smaller scale than the 430,000 voters and $11.5 million budget under his wing in Washington, D.C. Suleman also has worked in elections offices in Ohio and Virginia.

For the past five years, Suleman worked as a Virginia-based consultant for local, state, national and international elections and voter registration, including playing an integral role in establishing the first permanent election commission in Montenegro, according to his resume.