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Published: Monday, 7/14/2008

Lucas County Board of Elections seeking interim deputy director

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The Lucas County Board of Elections will meet in special session Thursday to talk about its sudden leadership vacuum, following a Deputy Director Jill Kelly s sudden decision to take a leave of absence.

Ms. Kelly s leave, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, leaves the elections board without either of its top two administrators and with a presidential election looming.

Daniel Pilrose, the former director, retired last month, saying his doctor had recommended he step down.

Patrick Kriner, the board chairman, said the Democratic and Republican supervisors LaVera Scott and Desiree Lyonette will oversee the office until a director or deputy director are appointed.

Mr. Kriner briefed the elections board staff Monday afternoon. He said when the board meets Thursday it could appoint an interim deputy director until Ms. Kelly to return to her job, or appoint a director to replace Mr. Pilrose.

Even though Ms. Kelly is a Republican, he said he did not believe an interim replacement for deputy director would require a recommendation from the chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, Jon Stainbrook.

Typically, the board accepts the recommendation of the appropriate Lucas County political party chairman to replace the director or the deputy director. Mr. Pilrose was a Democrat, and his appointment is expected to be recommended soon by Ron Rothenbuhler, chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party.

Mr. Stainbrook has had a strained relationship with the Republican members of the elections board, recently calling for both of them Mr. Kriner and Lynn Olman to step down and make way for appointees recommended by him. Both have declined to resign.

Last Tuesday, a close associate of Mr. Stainbrook filed a complaint with the Lucas County Sixth District Court of Appeals accusing the elections board of failing to turn over public records that had been requested.

Mr. Kriner said today that if Ms. Kelly is feeling stress, that would not surprise him, but he did not believe it would be caused by the lawsuit. He said she has had to carry the responsibilities of the office through several replacement directors and deputy directors.

Mr. Kriner said Ms. Kelly informed him last Thursday that she planned to take a leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. He said she called in sick on Friday, and then went into the office on Saturday to clear her desk. A Blade reporter viewed her office, and it appeared Ms. Kelly had left it largely unchanged, with personal items in view and pictures on the wall.

I believe at this point in time her indication is she would return. She came in on the weekend to clear off her desk and make sure some of her projects were handed off to make sure they got done, Mr. Kriner said.

Contact Tom Troy at:tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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