App State Faculty Senate chair appointed to county board of elections

Moss Brennan and Abi Pepin

Gov. Roy Cooper appointed the App State Faculty Senate chair to the Watauga County Board of Elections. 

Michael Behrent, the faculty senate chair and associate history professor, was appointed after Watauga County BOE chair Jane Hodges resigned due to health concerns. He was sworn onto the board Oct. 8. 

“We welcome our new chair and appreciate his service to Watauga County voters during this unusual time,” said Matthew Snyder, director of the Watauga County Board of Elections in a press release. 

Snyder also thanked Hodges for her “years of dedicated service” as the former director of elections and chair of the board and said she will be missed. 

Behrent — a Democrat — said he is honored to serve in this role as chair of the board.

“I’m delighted to be able to do my part in making sure that we have a fair and safe election,” Behrent said. “We want to make sure that all citizens have a meaningful opportunity to participate and vote.”

He also said it will be difficult to follow in the footsteps of Hodges who he said is a local and state elections expert. 

Hodges has served as the BOE chair since March 2018 and worked with the board for approximately 30 years, Snyder said. 

Michael Behrent (right) was sworn onto the Watauga County Board of Elections on Oct. 8 as the chair. He replaced former chair Jane Ann Hodges who resigned due to health concerns. (Courtesy Watauga County Board of Elections)

The Watauga County Democrats nominated Behrent to replace Hodges as chair.

“Michael has been involved with the local party for the last few years and I have always found him thoughtful and well spoken and thought he would be ideal,” said Diane Tilson, chair of the Watauga County Democrats.

Tilson said it seems Behrent does research on issues to understand, and that he seemed like he would be a good fit for the board. 

“We hope that he will be willing to serve on the board of elections for awhile and we look forward to working with him and I hope the local board will work together to make the very best decisions possible for voters in Watauga County,” Tilson said. 

Behrent started at App State 12 years ago and is an associate professor in the Department of History. 

He earned his doctorate at New York University where he defended his dissertation “Society Incarnate: Association, Society, and Religion in French Political Thought, 1825-1912.”

He writes about American politics and political thought for several French publications and writes two blogs — one in French on American politics and another in English on French politics. 

“I’m very much looking forward to working with my four fellow board members and with the staff of the board of elections,” Behrent said.