A career center executive and former day-care operator netted the top two rankings in the race for the Rutherford County election administrator post, followed by an MTSU athletics fundraiser.
Randall Allen, an employer relations and career coach at Nashville Career Advancement Center in Murfreesboro, and Rebecca Elizabeth Harkins, previous director of Imagination Child Care and a former Lifepoint Hospitals employee, obtained 30 points and 29 points in the rating system done by the Rutherford County Human Resources Department.
Following them was Alan Farley, an MTSU associate athletic director of fundraising, netted 28 points, based on the grading system. Farley, who served on the Election Commission until 2002, was the only one of 13 remaining candidates for the position who had Election Office experience.
The Rutherford County Election Commission voted last Monday to accept a list of 12 candidates culled from 39 applicants by the county’s Human Resources Department. It later added one candidate who was inadvertently omitted from the list of people who earned 20 points on a grading scale based on education, administration, management, budgetary, marketing or promotional, legal or general office and supervisory experience and computer skills. One to four points were awarded in skill areas depending on years of experience.
Commissioners voted July 7 to fire three-year Administrator of Elections Nicole Lester for failure to work regular office hours and for poor management that led to low morale in the Election Office. The position pays $92,640 a year based on the county’s population.
The HR Department posted the position July 8 and accepted applications through July 14 and at the Election Commission’s direction reviewed them, using an evaluation grid – with 44 possible points – to determine the most qualified and experienced candidates, according to HR Director Sonya Stephenson.
“The HR Department used their best professional judgment without bias or prejudice based upon what the applicant had supplied,” Stephenson said in a written statement. “There were no inferences or assumptions made, instead each applicant was reviewed objectively, respectfully and carefully.”
Stephenson reviewed each application, followed by another HR staff member, and any differences in their evaluations were discussed. Election Commission Chairman Ransom Jones requested all applicants earning 20 or more points be listed for consideration by the five-member commission.
Commissioners are to choose two candidates and present their names at a Monday meeting set for 5 p.m. at the Election Office. The commission will set up interviews based on those nominations.
Minimum qualifications were a bachelor’s degree in political science, business management or a related field and/or any equivalent combination of education, training and experience that provided the knowledge needed for the job. It also required two years of administrative, managerial, instructional, budgetary, promotional and legal or general office experience. Managerial and leadership abilities of small and large groups were also sought.
Administrator of elections applicant grades:
• Randall Allen, 30 points. He holds of bachelor’s degree in political science from MTSU and gained 4 points in education, managerial, instructional, legal or office general, supervisory of 26-100 employees and computer skills but had a zero on administration experience.
• Rebecca Elizabeth Harkins, 28 points. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Freed Hardeman University and netted 4 points in education, along with 4’s in managerial, instructional, marketing, legal or office general, supervisory of 5-25 and computer skills but zeroes in administration and budgetary experience.
• Alan Farley, 27 points. He holds a bachelor of business administration and received a 4 in education, administration, marketing, legal or office general and supervisory of 5-25 but had zeroes in instructional, budgetary and supervisory of 26-100.
• Circuit Court Clerk Laura Bohling, 24 points. She is a certified public administrator but holds no college degree and received a 2 in the education rating. Even though she has management, administration and supervisory experience, she received only 2 points in those areas because she has only three to five years in those areas.
• Kyle Dotson, program coordinator for Department of Human Services Child Support Field, 24 points. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from MTSU, which netted 4 points, but picked up zero points for budgetary, marketing and supervisory of 26-100 employees.
• Charles Tilton, 24 points. He has a bachelor of science degree and received 4 points in education but picked up only 1 point for administrative experience and zero points for budgetary work.
• Julie B. Wilson, 24 points. She netted 4 points in management, instruction, budgeting, marketing or promotion and legal or general office but received only 1 point in education a 1 in the education ranking because it wasn't considered relevant to the position.
• Mike Pirtle, former editor of The Daily News Journal and Murfreesboro Post, current owner of MLP Consulting, 23 points. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Tennessee Tech but picked up only 1 point there because it isn’t considered a relevant degree. Pirtle earned 4’s managerial, budgetary, legal or general office and supervisory of 26-100 but received 2’s in administration and computer skills and zeroes in instructional and supervisory of 5-25.
• County Commissioner Steve Sandlin, a Nissan technician who is not seeking re-election, received 22 points. He holds a high school diploma and attended MTSU and Motlow State for two year, and received only 1 point in education, along with administration experience, marketing and computer skills but picked up 4’s in instructional, budgetary and legal or general office.
• John M. Womack Jr., operations manager at Michaels Crafts, 22 points. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Wright State University and obtained 4’s in managerial, legal or general office and computer skills but zeroes in administration and supervisory of small and large groups.
• Thomas Taylor Davis, 21 points. He holds a bachelor of science degree but received only 1 point because it isn’t in a relevant field. He obtained 4’s in managerial and legal or general office but 2’s in administration, supervisory of 5-25 and computer skills.
• Thomas Edward Thompson, detention center commander at Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, 21 points. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UT-Chattanooga and received 4 points in education, managerial, legal or office general and supervisory of 5-25 but zeroes for administration, instructional, marketing and supervisory of 26-100.
• Brad Turner, a Rutherford County commissioner, 20 points. He holds a bachelor of arts degree and obtained 4 points in education and computer skills but received 3’s in managerial, instructional, marketing and legal of general office and zeroes in administration and supervisory of small and large groups.