Vowing to look past the ‘chatter and smoke,’ Woolard takes oath as Fulton elections chair

Cathy Woolard discusses her new role as chair of the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections.

Emil Moffatt / WABE

There’s officially a new chair of the Fulton County Board of Elections.

Longtime Atlanta Democrat Cathy Woolard took the oath of office Wednesday. The former Atlanta City Council president replaces Alex Wan who resigned to run for office.

Woolard says her experience allows her to see beyond what she calls, the “chatter and smoke” of politics, and find the facts.

“In the general election last year, the metrics speak for themselves: Fulton County performed admirably,” said Woolard. “And what we want to do is establish a basis of consistent excellence so that the attention can go elsewhere.”

Fulton is trying to stave off a state takeover of the county’s elections department under Georgia’s new, Republican-backed election law.

The county has been the subject of an ongoing disinformation campaign following President Donald Trump’s 2020 loss with Trump supporters continuing to make baseless claims of fraud in the county.

On Wednesday, Woolard dismissed criticism that she’s too partisan for the post. Earlier this month, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called Woolard a “blatantly partisan and conflicted individual,” citing her work for Stacey Abrams’ voting rights group Fair Fight Action.

Cathy Woolard is sworn in as chair of the Fulton County Board of Elections. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

“I was surprised by the criticism, I don’t think it was justified,” Woolard said of Raffensperger’s words. “I think in time he’ll come to understand that I’ve been in public service my entire career and my reputation is incredibly important to me.”

Woolard was nominated by Fulton County Commission Chair Rob Pitts and approved by commissioners earlier this month, with one Republican commissioner voting for her and one Democrat voting against her.

“I’ve personally served alongside Ms. Woolard and know that she’s the right choice to lead the board of registration and elections at this time,” Pitts said.

Early voting for the Nov. 2 municipal elections starts in Fulton County on Oct. 12.