Hamilton County Election Administrator Goes On Leave Just Before Major Election

Monday, September 21, 2020

Hamilton County's election administrator has taken a leave of absence just before the upcoming major presidential election.

Mike Walden, Election Commission chairman, said Kerry Steelman opted to take the leave on his own volition.

It came after an email was sent out purportedly from an employee of the election office claiming that Mr. Steelman was berating employees.

Mr. Walden said he himself is carrying out an investigation of the allegations. He said he has met with the employees as a whole and with some employees individually.

He said the office is now being operated by long-time chief deputy and assistant administrator Scott Allen, who is the grandson of former election administrator Bud Knowles.

Of the investigation, Mr. Walden said, "I am trying to be respectful, and I am trying to decide what is going to happen going forward."

The long-time Election Commission chairman said, "Kerry is a nice guy who has done a good job running the election office. The last election went off fine."

He said the issues at the election office "have nothing to do with the sanctity of the election process" and would not affect anyone's voting rights.

Mr. Steelman was chosen by the Election Commission, after lengthy interviews of a number of candidates, in January 2014. He replaced Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, who retired after replacing the late Mr. Knowles.

Mr. Steelman previously worked in the office of Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and for former Congressman Zach Wamp.

The election administrator by law makes 90 percent of the salary of the assessor of property.

The Election Commission apparently discussed the issue in an hour-long "executive session" at the Election Commission meeting last Wednesday.

A follow-up meeting on Sept. 30 has been scheduled, but Mr. Walden said it may not be necessary to meet.

Of the disruption prior to the presidential voting, Mr. Walden said, "Is it a proper time to take a leave of absence? Probably not."

But he said, "The office will be fine with Allen and Nathan (Foster) in place and all the other staff.

"We're going to have a good election - I promise."

 

 


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