Monroe County officials who won election in November took their oaths of office at noon on Friday, New Year’s Day.
The 50-minute-long ceremony was hosted by the Monroe County Democratic Party. Election winners were all Democrats.
The continuing COVID-19 pandemic, which added another death to Monroe County’s count on Friday, was reflected in the venue for the ceremony—a Zoom video conference, live streamed on Facebook.
Those who took the oath of office were: judges Kara Krothe, Valeri Haughton, Geoff Bradley; auditor Catherine Smith; treasurer Jessica McClellan; coroner Joani Shields; surveyor Trohn Enright-Randolph; county commissioners Julie Thomas and Penny Githens; and county councilors Trent Deckard, Geoff McKim and Cheryl Munson.
Auditor Catherine Smith, who was unopposed in her re-election bid, used her time for remarks to remind everyone about a standard precaution for helping to prevent the spread of the virus: “If you love people, please mask up.”
Smith added, “My daughter-in-law lost her aunt this morning. So remember that one mask could be the difference between someone catching it and getting really sick and changing their family’s lives.”
Smith also reported that she, her husband, her son and her 92-year-old aunt had contracted the virus. About her own bout with COVID-19, she said, “I did have a difficult case.”
Smith thanked the staff in her own office, Chris Muench, Susie Johnson, and Brianne Gregory as well as staff in human resources and the treasurer’s office for pulling together while she was sick.
The pandemic had also added to the work of the auditor’s office, Smith said, because of the requirements of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. That came on top of new accounting standards (GASB/GAAP) that had to be implemented this year. The result, Smith said, was a clean bill of health: “We just received really the best audit that’s been received in this county for many, many years.”
In her remarks to start off the ceremony, Monroe County Democratic Party chair Jennifer Crossley noted a milestone. The swearing in of Geoff Bradley as a circuit court judge would make him the first Black man to serve as a judge in Monroe County. Crossley noted that Bradley would be joining Valeri Haughton, a Black woman who won re-election as judge this year.
The first Black judge in Monroe County was Viola Taliaferro, who served from 1995 to 2004.
Haughton had her oath of office administered by city clerk Nicole Bolden. The pair wrapped up the exchange like this:
Bolden: “Congratulations, Mama.”
Haughton: “Thank you, sweetheart.”
Last year on New Year’s Day 2020, their roles were flipped. It was the county judge who administered the oath of office to her daughter, the city clerk.
The oath sworn by local officials is required under state statute to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana, and that the officer or deputy will faithfully discharge the duties of such office.”