Weakley County election administrator exits, blames Rep. Andy Holt

The Weakley County Election Administrator Barbara Castleman has retired, blaming interference from state Rep. Andy Holt for he decision, according to the Jackson Sun.

“I kind of thought that I would just get out of it. I don’t want to put up with this hassle anymore,” Castleman said. “The hassle of the representative calling my shots and things.”

Holt has been vocal about his wish that the commission hire Alex Britt, a friend and former volunteer on Holt’s campaigns, as the new administrator. Castleman said Holt wanted to put Britt in the administrator position without opening up the job to applicants.

Holt denied those claims and said that Castleman was hired without an open application period. He said the administrator job should be open to applicants, which the commission will vote on.

Holt does not have the authority to appoint the administrator. He can only recommend people to be appointed as county election commissioners, and those appointments are approved by the State Election Commission. The county election commission decides who to hire as its administrator.

But Holt said the State Election Commission normally appoints whomever he recommends to the county board.

Holt recommended the removal of the three Republican members of the county election commission, and three new members were appointed, but he said it wasn’t because the new commissioners promised to vote for Britt as administrator.

Holt said his reasons were not “tyrannical,” and each former commissioner had mentioned wanting to leave at some point.

“I made that recommendation to all the election commission,” Holt said. “I have never said, ‘You have to vote for Alex or I will …’”

…Holt said the situation has gotten blown out of proportion, but at the end of the day it is a political office.

“Sometimes you ruffle feathers and sometimes you hurt people’s feelings,” he said. “That’s not my intention, but at some point you have to pick somebody.”