By Sean Rice
Mercer County Elections Director Toni Slusser announced Friday she is resigning from her post to begin a new position with the staff of Ohio Sec- retary of State Kenneth Blackwell.
Slusser will continue serving Mercer County as the northwest field representative for the secretary of state's office, providing support for election boards in 13 northwest Ohio counties. She plans to remain in Celina, working out of a home office.
"I am honored to have been appointed director during your tenure," Slusser said to Mercer County Board of Elections members in her resignation letter. "Your guidance as a board and support as individual members has been very much appreciated ... I have no doubt the important decision and the hard work that lay ahead will be in capable and responsible hands."
Board members discussed Slusser's replacement in a closed-door executive session Friday afternoon, after which they decided to promote employee Denise Fullenkamp, a Democrat from Rockford, to the position of interim elections director. Slusser's second-in-command, Deputy Elections Director Diana Grile, is sidelined for possibly a month or more recuperating from back surgery.
Slusser, a Celina Republican, was appointed deputy director in 1997 and served in that position until being named director in 2001. Her current salary is $29,300. Prior to her public service, Slusser held a management position at Key Bank, where she worked for 20 years. Board members on Friday also appointed new board member Del Kramer, a Republican, as chairman of the four-member board. Ohio law requires the board chairman to be of the opposite party of the elections director. Kramer, a Republican, took the chairman's seat from Betty Cook, a Democrat.
Also the deputy elections director and director must be of opposite political parties. Currently this is not being met since Fullenkamp and Grile are both Democrats.