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Oregon Director of Elections Leaves
Critizes support for the agency on the way out.

Oregon Elections Director Steve Trout has left his position at the Secretary of State's office less than a week after the general election, with a small handful of races still pending.

In a memo sent to both of the presumptive top two candidates for Secretary of State, Shemia Fagan (D-Portland) and Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), Trout lets both know about what he thought of the the state of the Elections Division. It's not clear whether he was fired or resigned. It seems to be a case of "you can't fire me, because I quit."

"When one of you takes office in January you will be the fourth Secretary we have had in 4 years and one month, and the fifth Secretary in the past six years. During that time, we have also had four Deputy Secretaries and three Information Services (ISD) directors. As a result of this constant change in the executive team there is a lack of strategic vision and plans for the agency, and staff are not focused due to that lack of vision and leadership. I am not stating this to attach blame because Secretary Richardson’s cancer was no one’s fault, but simply to recognize that that lack of vision and leadership over the past few years has really set the agency back."

As the only Republican held statewide office, the Secretary of State's office under the late Dennis Richardson was the target of budget tightfistedness in the Democrat controlled legislature, under the Democrat administration of Kate Brown, who had other priorities.

Trout's memo contained a laundry list of information technology initiatives which lacked funding due to "Elections Division struggles to get support from the agency support divisions." In a self-critical paragraph he laments that his own people caused some of the damage, because "most of the projects that have been completed and rolled out in the past couple of years have had to be undone because there were changes made that resulted in breaking other things." He also blamed outdated hardware.

His final blow comes near the end of the memo where he apparently dooms his successor. "Finally, I don’t want you to be surprised if you hear I am interviewing for new jobs. It is not because I don’t want to work for either of you, but rather because I cannot succeed with the current state of technology and lack of support in the agency. I don’t believe anyone will be able to succeed."

Shemia Fagan defeated Kim Thatcher in the Secretary of State's race by a margin of 50% to 43%.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-09 16:55:22Last Update: 2020-11-10 09:39:24



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