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Published: Wednesday, 7/16/2008

Lucas County Board of Elections boss files for formal sick leave

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Kelly Kelly
JETTA FRASER/THE TOLEDO BLADE / THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Jill Kelly, deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, has asked to apply her 26 weeks of accrued sick leave and vacation time to her Family and Medical Leave Act leave of absence.

If Ms. Kelly uses all the days available to her, the board's special election Aug. 5 on a levy for the Anthony Wayne Local School District would occur without her involvement, and the Nov. 4 general election.

Ms. Kelly called in sick Friday and Monday. Late Monday, she submitted a handwritten note requesting a leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

The 1993 law allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year to care for a "serious medical condition" of the employee or a close family member or a birth and be able to return to their job.

An employee who is determined to be a "key" employee can be denied restoration of his or her job when he or she returns from leave.

A key employee must be among the highest-paid 10 percent of the work force within 75 miles of the work site.

With the director's position vacant, Ms. Kelly is the highest-paid employee on staff, at $82,229 a year.

Ms. Kelly's note requesting medical leave identified no specific medical condition. A note she attached from her doctor was not released yesterday.

Ms. Kelly has not returned requests for comment from The Blade.

Former Director Daniel Pilrose, Jr., took retirement effective June 30, saying it was his doctor's recommendation.

The board is to meet at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow for an executive session to discuss both Mr. Pilrose's and Ms. Kelly's positions.

Jon Stainbrook, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, said the board should replace Ms. Kelly because of the urgency of the upcoming elections and because of his lack of confidence in her performance.

Mr. Stainbrook has accused Ms. Kelly and the Republicans on the board of playing favorites against him in the recent contest for party chairman in which he unseated incumbent chairman Bob Reichert.

Ms. Kelly and Republican board members Patrick Kriner and Lynn Olman have denied working against Mr. Stainbrook.

Early last week, Mr. Stainbrook's associate, Kelly Bensman, filed a mandamus complaint in Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals against the board, claiming Ms. Kelly and others withheld public records.

"This is a presidential election year. We have to have quality people at the board of elections who are ready to dedicate 100 percent of their attention to having an accurate, fair, and competent election," Mr. Stainbrook said.

He said he is writing to Mr. Olman and Mr. Kriner to ask them to consider his recommendations for the post of deputy director.

Mr. Kriner could not be reached late yesterday. On Monday, he said he expected Ms. Kelly to return to her job, and said the board might vote for an interim replacement from within the staff, a move he said would not require Mr. Stainbrook's input.

He also played down the effect of having an interim deputy director as the board gears up for the Nov. 4 election.

"I am confident that we are where we need to be relative to the special election for the Anthony Wayne school board, and where we need to be with the November election," Mr. Kriner said.

"I believe we're going to resolve these other issues in a very brief period of time and move on with the job of having fair and accurate elections."

Ms. Kelly's total accrued leave is 743.9 hours of sick leave and 178.9 hours of vacation time.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.


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