Grimes keeps Mary Sue Helm as elections director also hires two former prosecutors

01/03/2012 12:00 PM

(UPDATED WITH GRIMES TALKING ABOUT THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS DIRECTOR) Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes unveiled her executive team on Day 1, which features a familiar face heading up the elections division and two former assistant prosecutors.

Grimes hired Mary Sue Helm, who has worked in the office for 23 years under secretaries of state from both parties, will serve as director of administrations and elections.

In addition to overseeing the filing of candidates for the elections, Helm will manage the finances, legal affairs and personnel of the agency.

Former Secretary of State Trey Grayson thought so highly of Helm that he recommended to Gov. Steve Beshear that he appoint her as Secretary of State last January after Grayson resigned to accept a job at Harvard University.

Grimes also gave a hint during an interview with Pure Politics that she likes the choice of Mary Ellen Allen as the interim director of the Kentucky Board of Elections.

The board voted 5-0 last week to replace Sarah Ball Johnson, who served as director during the term of Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson and last year while Elaine Walker was Secretary of State.

Grimes, a lawyer by trade, also is bringing in two deputies with experience as prosecutors — one on the federal level and one on the local level.

Lindsay Hughes Thurston, a former assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, will serve as Grimes’ top lieutenant as the assistant secretary of state and chief operating officer.

Thurston specialized in child exploitation cases during her time a federal prosecutor. And before that she worked as an assistant Fayette County Attorney.

Another former assistant Fayette County Attorney, Noel Caldwell, will work as Grimes’ director of business filings.

Most recently, Caldwell worked as a partner in a private law firm where he specialized in civil lawsuit defenses — specifically representing government entities, according to Grimes’ announcement.

In addition, Grimes hired Lexington native Matt Daley as her special assistant.


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