By Timothy Cox
The Mercer County Board of Elections is seeking resumes for the deputy director position, which is expected to be vacated soon by current deputy Diana Grile.
Grile plans to resign her post when her daughter -- newly appointed Director Denise Fullenkamp -- is sworn into the job.
A Democrat is needed to fill the deputy director's post because Fullenkamp, who is now a registered Democrat, had stated her intention to become a Republican. The director and deputy director must be of opposite parties.
Fullenkamp was installed as director by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell to break the local board's tie vote, but has yet to be sworn in.
The pay rate for the deputy director's post was set at $25,500 during a meeting called Tuesday morning. The board's Democrats will interview candidates. Fullenkamp's new salary was set at $28,000 after some debate among board members. Republican member Del Kramer said he wanted to set Fullenkamp's salary higher to reflect her experience. A new, unexperienced director in Auglaize County recently was set higher in that county for the same job. Board Democrats wanted to stick with a previously discussed $27,500 annual pay, but finally relented to the additional $500 after a final plea from Kramer. Republican board member Owen Hall was absent.
Board members were pressed to make some other personnel decisions in the wake of the office's staffing changes and the coming May 3 primary election.
The office's new director and eventual deputy director must be given specific job duties, said Toni Slusser, Blackwell's regional representative to the board and the Mercer County board's former director. Whatever duties cannot be done by staff members must legally be carried out by board members, Slusser reiterated.
To avoid any labor problems, board members agreed to hire Grile as an independent contractor and to hire a new clerk.
Grile was hired at a rate of $22 per hour to serve in a mostly advisory role, drawing on her five-plus years of experience. The contract runs through May 20 but could be extended by mutual agreement. The contract terms do not take effect until Grile resigns her current post; the $22 hourly rate reflects the value of her current pay and benefits. She will receive no benefits as an independent contractor, will not work directly with ballots and will not hold keys to the office. Her hours will be on an as-needed basis.
Laura Jones was hired at a rate of $8.50 per hour to serve as a clerk. Jones is a Republican, so board members are seeking a Democrat to serve in the other clerk position. The clerk jobs are for 25 hours per week and include benefits.
Board members also said Democratic poll workers are needed for the next general election in November. About 70 people are needed to work at the polls.
The board has put out the call for area Democrats to come forward to serve as poll workers, office clerks or even the agency's deputy director.
The registered Democrats are needed to provide political balance in the elections office's staff and to fill shortages of the party's representatives as poll workers in future elections.