GEORGETOWN — Less than two months remain before the November elections, and the Brown County Board of Elections remains without a director.
The current three-person board was at an impasse at their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, Sept. 11, as neither Democrat Dallas Hurt nor Democrat Jo Ann Kattine would endorse each other’s candidates for the director position. While Republican Moriah Votel remains as the chairwoman of the board, the director of the Board of Elections must be a Democrat. The fourth person, and second Republican seat on the Board of Elections remains empty after Bill Herdman’s resignation last week due to health issues.
Earlier this month, the Board of Elections did approve the hiring of former clerk Connie Ayers to be the new Deputy Director.
Early in the meeting, with a number of Democratic Central Committee members present in the audience, Hurt moved to move the election of a director up to the top of the day’s agenda. After that was passed, he nominated former Board of Elections director Kathy Jones to be director again, and the move was seconded by Kattine. But when called upon to vote, both Hurt and Votel voted no, to Kattine’s yes.
Hurt then explained his actions, directing it towards the Democratic Central Committee members.
“I voted to hire Kathy Jones in 2010, when she was first hired,” Hurt said. “I worked with the other board members in December and January to get her re-hired. In the last 270 days, Jones has had this position and resigned from it twice. If she really wanted to be the director of the Board of Elections, she would still be here.”
It was later clarified that Jones retired, not resigned, the first time she left the board in November 2014.
Kattine made a passionate plea for Votel and Hurt to reconsider their votes against Jones, but after that fruitless attempt, Kattine moved to hire former Brown County Commissioner and current Emergency Response Coordinator with the Brown County Health Department, Margery Paeltz, as director. But the motion never gained a second, and the motion died.
Hurt then responded by nominating former Georgetown News Democrat editor and Georgetown Village Council member Steve Triplett to be director, but that motion also did not earn a second. The motion then died.
Kattine asked where that left the Board of Elections.
“The course is that a person is nominated, someone is seconded, and then it goes to a vote,” Votel said. “It takes three to vote (in approval) to get that person in. I would say at this point the board is at an impasse.”
With only three members at the board meeting, the only way for them to elect a new director would have been a unanimous vote. According to Ohio Revised Code statute 3501.09, if there is a tie each time after five attempts to vote for a new director, the names of the board members and those nominated will be sent to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, who will designated one of the nominees to be the new director.
While Jones remains out of a job, she will be getting a check in the mail from the county. The Board of Elections approved payouts for her, former Deputy Director Elizabeth Thorn-McKenzie, and former clerk Aimee Pfeffer. Jones will recieve $624.30, Thorn-McKenzie will receive $1,142.53, and Pfeffer will receive around $279, though that number had to be verified by Pfeffer in writing.
During the meeting, the board also approved Mt. Orab village councilman Woody Whittington’s name to go on the ballot as Woody, as it is a derivative of Whittington’s middle name Edward. Hurt cited Wikipedia, the free dictionary, as his reasoning for approving the name request on the ballot.
Late in the meeting, Democrat Central Committee members Don Thomas, Jimmy Castle, Duke Snider, and Carol Myers used their publicly allotted time to hit out at what they perceived to be poor decisions by Hurt, who is also the Democrat Central Committee chair.
Before finishing the meeting, the board agreed to meet again in regular session on Oct. 15 at 1 p.m.