Three new members and one returning member of the Lucas County Board of Elections received a one-day crash course in Ohio election law and procedures Thursday from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office and could convene as a post-dysfunctional board Tuesday.
Republicans Peter Handwork and Mark Wagoner, Sr., and Democrat Bren-da Hill, along with Democratic member John Irish, met behind closed doors all day on the 12th floor of Government Center with three staffers from the secretary of state’s office in Columbus.
“It’s a pretty standard training that we provide for all boards of election in the state. We walk through various things they’re going to need to know and understand, some basic training to understand how it works,” Secretary of State spokesman Matt McClellan said. The training of new board members is required by state law.
Mr. McClellan said the training did not violate requirements of the state’s open-meeting law, even though the public was not notified and the session appeared to be closed.
He said the board was not deliberating or discussing any other issues, and that training sessions with county boards occur regularly.
“It’s exactly what we’ve done with every other board. It’s simply a service the secretary of state’s office provides,” he said.
Mr. Handwork and Mr. Wagoner both took their oaths of office Wednesday from Lucas County Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter. Ms. Hill took the oath Tuesday from county Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros.
All three were appointed by Secretary of State Jon Husted July 10. Lucas County has been without an elections board since June 5 when three members were removed by Mr. Husted for allowing a culture of dysfunction to interfere with the office and for failing to carry out certain required board duties. Mr. Irish was kept on but his appointment was suspended until the new members were sworn in.
Mr. Handwork said the course covered “a lot of things I never knew even existed. There’s a lot of things that I have to learn.”
On hand for the training was Matt Damschroder, the deputy assistant secretary of state.
The new board takes shape even as the Lucas County Republican Party is pursuing a state Supreme Court case charging that Mr. Husted, also a Republican, overstepped his boundaries in appointing Mr. Handwork, a retired judge of the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals, and Mr. Wagoner, a Toledo-area lawyer, rather than the nominees of the party’s executive committee. The party nominated two other people who were rejected by Mr. Husted as being associated with the board’s previous problems.
Ms. Hill’s and Mr. Handwork’s terms end Feb. 28, 2017. Mr. Wagoner’s term ends Feb. 29, 2016.