PAULDING, Ohio — A group of residents is preparing to initiate a recall drive against two of the county commissioners, based on the commissioners' decision to move dog warden duties to the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.
A Facebook page with the heading “Recall Paulding Ohio Commissioners” had nearly 400 supporters as of late Wednesday. If a recall effort is filed with the county Board of Elections, the group will have 90 days to collect 2,000 signatures of registered voters.
Fred Pieper, chairman of the commissioners and one of those targeted along with commissioner Tony Zartman, declined to comment.
“I talked to the election board yesterday and no one has filed the forms to start a recall,” Mr. Pieper said. “Until one actually has started, it’s just rumor, and I’m not going to comment on rumor.”
Mr. Pieper stood by the commission’s decision to move dog warden duties, the act that that prompted talk of a recall.
“We are still going ahead with the plans because we feel it’s what is best for the county,” he said.
Paulding is the first county in northwest Ohio to make such a shift, but Champaign, Shelby, Madison, Marion, Pike, Washington, Logan, Preble, and Fayette have taken such a route.
Bob Duffey of Cecil, Ohio, is one of the residents leading the planned recall effort.
He says his group is consulting with an attorney on the wording of the 200-word statement, which will be submitted to the board of elections within the next few days.
He plans to run for one of the commission seats should the recall succeed.
He said Mr. Pieper and Mr. Zartman are the two commissioners behind the action and that is why new Commissioner Roy Klopfenstein, who has only been on the board since January, is not being targeted.
Chris Kipker of Paulding, also involved in the recall initiative, said the signature collectors will set up around the county and also will go door-to-door.
She said she is upset about the new plan, which goes into effect July 1, and that Georgia Dyson, the dog warden, goes “above and beyond” to find homes or rescues for dogs.
Ms. Dyson will lose her job when the transfer takes place.
“A deputy sheriff is not going to take the time to see the potential in the dogs and I believe strongly that our shelter will become one of the high-kill shelters in the state, not a distinction I want my county to be known for,” Ms. Kipker said. “The sheriff already stated he’s not sure what kind of resources they will have available to pursue rescuing dogs. He said they may have to resort to state law, which is three days for an untagged dog and 14 with tags and then they can euthanize them.”
Residents are upset with the commissioners’ proposed plan to dissolve the county Emergency Management Agency agreement and put the agency under the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office, Ms. Kipker said.
“The way the commissioners did this, with no input from the citizens has me furious. This is a major decision, that involves major restructuring and we had no input, no clue,” Ms. Kipker said.
It’s not only animal lovers who are talking about recalling the commissioners, Mr. Duffey said.
“A lot of people are upset with the attitudes of the commissioners that they don’t have to listen to what we, the citizens of Paulding County, say,” Mr. Duffey said. “For me, it started out because of the situation with the dog warden position, but the EMA situation is also a major factor at this point."
EMA Director Randy Shaffer of Antwerp told The Blade that he had actually hoped to remain in the position for another eight years but the commissioners gave him the option to retire, resign, or to be fired.
Commissioners plan to visit village council and township meetings — all the county’s municipalities have to approve the plan for them to be able to dissolve Paulding County’s EMA board.
Contact Tanya Irwin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @TanyaIrwin.