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Swearing his oath of office on a Bible that once belonged to his grandmother, Jon Stainbrook, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, Friday became the newest member of the Lucas County Board of Elections.
“Finally,” Mr. Stainbrook said before taking the oath, administered by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith Lanzinger at One Government Center.
Two Republicans have resigned from the board within the past six weeks. Ben Marsh resigned on May 10, and Patrick Kriner left the board on Wednesday, a deadline he had announced May 20. Mr. Stainbrook had pushed to have both men replaced as the two GOP members. Friday, he said there was no animosity and instead wanted to talk about regaining the public’s trust in the board, which he said has been tarnished.
“I would not be here if Pat Kriner and Ben Marsh had not stepped aside for us,” Mr. Stainbook said.
The change allows Mr. Stainbrook to participate in filling the posts of director and deputy director, who were both fired in March over the handling of provisional ballots.
Mr. Stainbrook said hiring a director and deputy director of the board of elections would be a top priority, as would be filling the remaining board vacancy.
The county Republicans’ executive committee recommended Mr. Stainbrook for the seat that was held by Mr. Marsh. Forty-eight members of the executive committee voted unanimously last month for Mr. Stainbrook as the nominee. The executive committee is made up of elected ward chairmen, GOP elected officials, past chairmen, members of the state central committee, and appointees of the chairman.
He was then appointed by Secretary of State Jon Husted to sit on the board of elections, which is still under investigation from the Nov. 2, 2010, election.
“We are bringing back accountability to make sure that every vote counts,” Mr. Stainbrook said. “That is why we are here: to re-establish voter trust.”
Mr. Kriner’s resignation left the board without a Republican member and without a quorum to conduct business. That essentially rendered the board ineffective.
Ron Rothenbuhler, the Lucas County Democratic chairman and a member of the elections board, said he was pleased the board could operate once again.
“I am glad we have a board of elections that is functional today, because we did not have a board for a day,” Mr. Rothenbuhler said. “I hope we can work together to guarantee the board operates in a fair and effective manner.”
The elections board is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, who oversee the elections department staff and are required to certify candidates and vote counts by majority vote, with the secretary of state breaking the rare tie.
Mr. Stainbrook, 47, has fought for years to get on the board of elections.
Normally, appointments are awarded to whomever the local party leadership wants.
Mr. Marsh’s appointment in March, 2010, to replace Lynn Olman was an exception from the normal procedure, because the Lucas County Republican Party was undergoing a struggle for political power.
Then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner refused to appoint Mr. Stainbrook at that time because she said the leadership of the party was in dispute, so she reached out to Mr. Marsh, a respected longtime GOP leader in Lucas County.
Mr. Marsh said he never intended to serve the full four-year term to which he was appointed.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171.