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Published: Thursday, 10/25/2007

Fiscal officer lacks residency requirement in York Township

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Beck Beck
HANDOUT; NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

DELTA, Ohio - Does she or doesn't she?

For years, some folks in Fulton County have wanted to know, but it took an official challenge this week to find out that, yep, an elected official in York Township lives not here, but there.

C. Yvonne Beck, who was appointed the township's clerk in 2004 and is unopposed for election Nov. 6, actually resides in Williams County, not Fulton County.

And because of that, she fails to meet the requirements of a qualified elector in Fulton County, the board of elections has ruled.

Some Delta-area residents long have contended that Mrs. Beck resides with her husband in Williams County rather than lives alone in a Delta apartment, but it was pretty much just coffee-shop chatter until last week when Don Gerdes of Delta formally challenged Mrs. Beck's right to vote in Fulton County.

Mrs. Beck has listed her address as 101 Highland Ave., Apt. C, Delta, but some village residents said she was rarely there.

Mr. Gerdes, who is Delta's mayor, said he recently saw a notice about a township event which listed Mrs. Beck's Montpelier home address and a Montpelier telephone number.

"I figured, let's question it and see what we get," Mr. Gerdes said yesterday.

In response to questions during a board of elections hearing Tuesday night, Mrs. Beck answered under oath that her place of residency is Jefferson Township in Williams County.

The board of election's ruling was based on criteria outlined in the Ohio Revised Code, said Brett Kolb, director of the Fulton County Board of Elections.

Mrs. Beck was appointed clerk to fill the unexpired term of Roger Morr, who resigned after being convicted of grand theft.

Morr had used his position as a branch manager at First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Delta to trick longtime friends into buying bogus investment securities.

In November, 2005, Mrs. Beck was elected to finish the unexpired term. The title of clerk has since been changed to fiscal officer.

Removing Mrs. Beck from office would be up to the township trustees, not the board of elections. The board of elections' ruling only focused on the challenge of her personal residency, Mr. Kolb said.

It is too late to remove Mrs. Beck's name from the Nov. 6 ballot, he said.

You must be a qualified elector to hold elected office, and when seeking office, a qualified elector has to live in the jurisdiction in which he or she is seeking office.

When The Blade sought comment from Mrs. Beck yesterday, a man answering the telephone at the Becks' home near Montpelier said, "No, she doesn't have any comment, thank you very much."

Trustees did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

When Mrs. Beck ran for the unexpired term in 2005, she was endorsed by long-time York Township Trustee John Trowbridge, who noted then that she had more than 20 years of experience as a township clerk and served as a board of director of the Ohio Township Association for 14 years.

Even though her residency was in Williams County, Mrs. Beck cast ballots in Fulton County four times in general elections and a primary election between 2004 and 2006.

It's unclear what ramifications that might have on the township.

York Township is considered by many as a rural township, but it is home to major industries, including North Star BlueScope Steel.

Most of the village of Delta, about 30 miles west of Toledo, is in York Township. That means village residents vote for township officials, explained Mr. Gerdes who is not seeking re-election.

"Voting is a very sacred right and privilege and it needs to be protected," he said.

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com or

419-724-6006.



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