With a big election approaching and a key employee facing a drug charge, the Lucas County Board of Elections opted Friday to leave the employee in place for now.
The board declined to suspend or otherwise discipline Republican booth official Matthew Toepfer, 28, of 5227 Belpre Dr., whom Toledo police charged Oct. 3 with allowing his vehicle to be used in the commission of a felony drug abuse offense, a misdemeanor.
The board’s legal adviser, Lucas County Assistant Prosecutor Brenda Meyer, recommended the board take no disciplinary action against Mr. Toepfer until after the charges are resolved in court.
Elections Director Meghan Gallagher said suspending Mr. Toepfer would leave the elections staff without the person in charge of communicating with 700 Republican poll workers in the election scheduled for Nov. 5, including delivering phones and “grips” — the cases that hold elections material. She said Mr. Toepfer has been doing his job effectively.
Dan DeAngelis, the Democratic deputy director, said, “I will admit the timing for his arrest for these serious charges was very inconvenient to the board and its operations.”
Republican board member Jon Stainbrook, who is also Lucas County Republican chairman, provided the rest of the board with a document showing Mr. Toepfer had taken and passed a drug test. He urged the board to order additional tests, but no vote was taken.
Mr. Toepfer, who was hired in 2011 and became the full-time GOP booth official in June, 2012, is paid $32,938 a year, plus overtime.
According to police reports, a passenger in his car, Nathan Baldwin, 23, of 4138 Brogan Dr. was charged with possession of less than a gram of heroin and a syringe. The arrests took place at Monroe Street and Detroit Avenue.
According to the police report, a strong smell of marijuana came from the car and Mr. Toepfer told officers he knew Mr. Baldwin had bought heroin. Mr. Toepfer pleaded not guilty Oct. 7 in Toledo Municipal Court.
Mr. Toepfer’s attorney, Jerome Phillips, said his client denies the allegations in the police report, including that he knew Mr. Baldwin was buying drugs, and has requested copies of audio or videotapes of the alleged statements.
Near the end of the meeting, Mr. Stainbrook announced he was launching a personnel complaint against Mr. DeAngelis and board secretary Gina-Marie Kaczala. He submitted hourly records from June 2 through Oct. 19 showing Mr. DeAngelis often did not show up until 9 or 10 a.m. or later, when the board’s administrative office hours begin at 8:30 a.m.
Mr. DeAngelis said he works at home and evenings and welcomes the county personnel department’s investigation.
The complaint against Ms. Kaczala alleges she has been insubordinate on numerous occasions and has refused to comply with public records requests.
She denied after the meeting she ever behaved unprofessionally, and if public records requests were delayed, it was only to get clarification from the prosecutor’s office as to what to release.