By Timothy Cox
Mercer County elections officials are asking Montezuma village officials to retrace their steps in their recent appointment of a new village council member.
Elections board members decided that former councilman Max Brodbeck was improperly removed from council earlier this year. However, because Brodbeck agreed with the removal, the issue will be cleared up by the village council simply reappointing Olan Bole, who has been serving in Brodbeck's former role since February.
"They didn't follow the protocol," elections Director Denise Fullenkamp said.
The legal misstep will not be an issue because Brodbeck was not removed against his will, Fullenkamp said. Job responsibilities prevented Brodbeck from being able to attend the council's regular monthly meetings, which are usually held on Saturdays.
Brodbeck reportedly informed Mayor Charlotte Garman in November 2004 of the schedule conflict involving his job. In February council voted unanimously to expel Brodbeck from council and promptly replaced him with Bole, who was plucked from the audience at that meeting. Ohio Revised Code requires a verbal warning by the mayor followed by a written warning before council can lawfully remove a member for persistent absence. The public official being removed also is entitled to a public hearing.
The first warning can come after two months of missed meetings.
The issue came to the attention of elections officials after Bole was appointed to council. Council must now go through the formality of re-appointing Bole to his seat.
In a recent letter to the elections board to clear up the issue, Brodbeck explained that he agreed from the outset to waive his right to a hearing and the required warnings "so that they could expedite filling my position for the good of the village."
It is not clear why Brodbeck did not resign his post instead of forcing council to act.
Also Monday, board members agreed to buy new touch screen voting machines for $454,365. The money to pay for the new equipment comes from the federal government through the Help America Vote Act that Congress approved in the wake of the turmoil following the 2000 presidential election.
The elections board is buying the equipment from Diebold Election Systems. The equipment includes a voter-verified paper audit trail that critics of electronic voting say is necessary to ensure the integrity of elections.
In other business, board members certified the results of the May 3 primary election. Provisional balloting changed some vote totals, but the outcomes of all issues and political races remain the same.