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Published: Friday, 7/18/2008

Political veteran to lead Lucas County Board of Elections

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Howe Howe
TOLEDO BLADE LISA DUTTON Enlarge

The Lucas County Board of Elections chose and then swore in a new director yesterday - Linda R. Howe, who has been a probation officer for Maumee Municipal Court.

But the board remained undecided over when and how to fill the temporarily vacant deputy director post.

The four-member board voted unanimously to hire Ms. Howe, 66, of Napoleon, to replace Daniel Pilrose, Jr., who stepped down as elections director June 30, citing medical reasons.

She has agreed to move to Lucas County within 30 days.

"I believe that everything we do will be open and according to the law," Ms. Howe told the board and audience after she was sworn in. "It's a hard-working staff and I know everyone will treat all voters with respect regardless of their political affiliation."

Ms. Howe said she planned to begin work Monday to prepare for the presidential election as well as a special election in August for an Anthony Wayne School District levy renewal. The board set her annual salary at $85,594, which was Mr. Pilrose's salary.

Ms. Howe has been a probation officer in Maumee since 1995. As part of her job, she helped establish a domestic violence task force and a program called Life Skills for women who have been charged or sentenced in the court.

She was the elections director for Henry County from 1980 to 1985, then worked for two private companies selling election supplies from 1985 to 1989.

In 1989, she went to work for the Ohio Attorney General's Office as regional liaison for 13 counties, including Lucas, and held that position until 1995.

She resigned yesterday from her positions as a probation officer, effective Sunday, and as chairman of the Henry County Democratic Party and as a member of the Henry County Board of Elections.

Ms. Howe was recommended for the position by Ron Rothenbuhler, the Lucas County Democratic Party chairman.

Still undecided is whether the board will fill the post of deputy director, with the current deputy director, Jill Kelly, on sick leave and seeking to be released for up to 12 weeks under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The board's agenda for yesterday's special meeting called for hiring an interim deputy director. But after an hour of closed-door discussions, much of it involving just Republican board members Patrick Kriner and Lynn Olman, the board adjourned without appointing an interim deputy director.

Ms. Kelly went on medical leave last Friday and has not said when she plans to return. Ms. Kelly has asked to have all her accumulated sick leave and vacation leave, totaling about 26 weeks, applied to her family and medical leave.

The 1993 FMLA law allows employees in some situations to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for their own or a family member's serious medical condition or a birth and then return to one's job.

Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook called on Mr. Kriner and Mr. Olman to follow party bylaws requiring them to consider nominations from the party chairman and executive committee to replace Ms. Kelly. He said the appointment should be made quickly because of the upcoming presidential election.

Gary Johnson, a Democratic board member, said the board should make a decision soon because of the necessity for political balance.

"We want somebody in there to concur with the Democratic director," Mr. Johnson said.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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