TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A new person is in charge of conducting elections in Smith County.

Smith County Elections Commission on Tuesday hired Denise Hernandez, who has been Henderson County elections administrator since 2008, to head the Elections Office.

Hernandez said in her application that she would “strive for accountability in maintaining public confidence in honest and impartial elections, which will be conducted in a fair, efficient and accurate manner.”

She replaces Karen Nelson, who now serves as chief deputy elections administrator.

The Elections Commission — made up of Judge Moran, Tax Assessor-Collector Gary Barber, County Clerk Karen Phillips, Democratic Party Chair Michael Tolbert and Republican Party Chair David Stein – hires the elections administrator.

Two people applied for Nelson’s previous job, said information from the county.

“There is nothing more important as a foundation to our democracy and government – both locally and nationally – than the integrity of our elections,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said. “For almost two years now, improving Elections Administration in Smith County has been a focus of the Commissioners Court. The hire of Denise Hernandez is just another step in that process.”

Moran said Hernandez has the experience to “strengthen the Smith County Elections Office, and to build an elections team that is second-to-none in the state.”

Hernandez began working for Henderson County in 1999 as a property tax bookkeeper. In 2008, she became the county’s first elections administrator. She is a Certified Elections Registration Administrator and Registered Election Official.