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Hamilton County Election Administrator Kerry Steelman / Staff file photo

Hamilton County Election Administrator Kerry Steelman has taken a leave of absence amid an internal complaint just weeks before the November general election.

According to Steelman's attorney, Harry Burnette, the administrator voluntarily took a recent leave of absence to avoid "distracting from the big day" ahead of the presidential and senatorial election on Nov. 3.

"Kerry is very big on making sure that we have a fair and honest election," Burnette told the Times Free Press on Tuesday. "He thinks our focus ought to be on the election."

Steelman, who has presided over 13 local elections in his six years as administrator, decided to take a temporary leave after a complaint was filed against him by a subordinate, according to Burnette.

"Although I'm not at liberty to discuss folks that were unhappy with the manner in which he was supervising the employees, [Steelman] didn't want anybody to divert the attention of the people of this coming up election," Burnette said.

Burnette declined to share further details of the complaint against Steelman.

Steelman — a former employee of Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and former Congressman Zach Wamp — was hired for the role in 2014 out of a pool of 39 applicants.

Election Commission Chairman Mike Walden, who will oversee the investigation into the complaint, did not respond to multiple phone calls on Tuesday.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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