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Published: Thursday, 7/26/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

State official settles 3 ties at election board

Husted scolds county office for inability to work together

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted criticized the Lucas County Board of Elections for needing 'constant intervention' by his office. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted criticized the Lucas County Board of Elections for needing 'constant intervention' by his office.
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Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Wednesday settled three tie votes of the Lucas County Board of Elections and scolded the agency for being unable to resolve its political differences.

Mr. Husted, a Republican, broke a vote in favor of the two Democrats on the election board to approve the promotion of Glynis Fuentes from registration clerk to campaign finance clerk. He told the board of two Democrats and two Republicans that if they can't agree on an organization plan in 15 days he will take charge.

Democrats and Republicans split 2-2 on a series of votes July 3 and July 6, sending the issues to Mr. Husted to settle.

"It is unfortunate and pathetic that the Lucas County Board of Elections is continually unable to agree on the staffing and organization of the board. Instead, the Lucas County Board of Elections requires constant intervention by my office," Mr. Husted said.

He called on the board to work together to create an organization chart and job descriptions that all four board members support. The board members are Democrats Ron Rothenbuhler and Keila Cosme and Republicans Jon Stainbrook and Tony DeGidio.

The dispute has political overtones because Mr. Rothenbuhler and Mr. Stainbrook are county chairmen of their respective political parties.

Mr. Husted said if the board is not able to complete "that basic task" of agreeing on an organizational chart in 15 days, "I will be forced to mandate extensive organizational changes, including personnel."

Mr. DeGidio said the board has been trying to work together even though it has "legitimate differences." He said he didn't disagree with Mr. Husted's letter but would have liked to see more explanation.

"I think we're working together better than we used to," Mr. DeGidio said.

Mr. Rothenbuhler said he was gratified that Mr. Husted approved the Fuentes appointment, saying she's been doing the job without the title for about eight months. As to Mr. Husted's injunction to agree on an organizational chart, Mr. Rothenbuhler said, "we are going to work very diligently on getting that resolved."

Mr. Stainbrook pledged Wednesday evening that the elections board "will continue to strive toward providing the voters of Lucas County a fair and transparent November election, delivered in a true bipartisan fashion."

In its tie votes, the board deadlocked on a motion by the Democratic board members to promote Ms. Fuentes. The secretary of state also rejected a tie vote to appoint Rick Erel as information technology manager, a job overseeing the GEMS, or "global election management system," which controls the database and ballot layout for touch-screen and paper voting. Even though his nomination came from the Republican board members, the appointment is considered a Democratic position on the board, which by law is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.

A third tie vote was on a Democratic motion, opposed by the Republican board members, to hire Jeff Shelnick as the IT manager. Mr. Husted did not break the tie because Mr. Shelnick withdrew his application for the job. Mr. Rothenbuhler said he has a third candidate in mind for the job.

The fourth tie vote was on an organizational chart supported by the Democrats and opposed by the Republicans. Mr. Husted broke the tie vote and ruled against the plan.

The chart would have evenly split the authority of the day-to-day operations in the office between the director, who is Republican Meghan Gallagher, and the deputy director, who is Democrat Dan DeAngelis. Republicans opposed the plan, arguing it would have given Democrats an advantage in the elections board because Democrats would have a leadership position, board chairman, now held by Mr. Rothenbuhler, while Republicans would share the job of director with Democrats.

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



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