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03-02-06 Auglaize County election director removed

By Janie Southard

  WAPAKONETA -- Auglaize County Elections Board ousted the director and elected a new director, all at a 90-minute reorganization meeting this morning.

  Carolyn Campbell, 56, of Wapakoneta began serving as full-time director following a board recess, while former director Linda Huber of St. Marys was aided in removing personal items from her office by elections board members Larry Fledderjohann and Stan Wietholter.

  The first action at the meeting was a request by interim board president Wietholter for nominations for the director position. There was silence, until board member Francia Engle nominated clerk Peg Metheny and Fledderjohann nominated Campbell. No one nominated Huber.

  Board members then voted by paper ballot, with Campbell receiving three votes and Metheny one.

  Metheny then was elected unanimously for the deputy director spot. Former deputy director Josie Schaub, who has served in that position for about 12 years, was demoted to full-time clerk.  After Huber left the elections board office without making a comment, Campbell and Metheny were sworn in by County Prosecutor Ed Pierce.

  Board members made no comments as to the change in positions. Wietholter only thanked Huber for her service.

  Only Pierce commented, saying the director serves at the pleasure of the board.

  Huber was hired just 10 months ago after the state ordered that former elections Director Jean Burklo be removed from the position for improprieties in the office. The state also placed the board of elections on administrative oversight for not doing its job. The oversight still remains, and the board since then has been embroiled in numerous internal conflicts.

  At one point last year following Burklo's removal from office, the board attempted to create a new position for her in the board office. Only strong objections from the secretary of state's office doused those efforts. Several board members also were not re-elected to positions this year.

  After an executive session this morning, salaries were approved for the new employees.

  Wietholter, who was elected unanimously as permanent board chairman at the same meeting, said the new staff was not hired for what they know about the job, but because they can "make things happen and work well together."

  That said, he announced Campbell will be paid $30,500, Metheny's salary will be $30,000 and Schaub will be paid $29,800. The director's salary remains the same as was set in December. The deputy director's salary increased by $500 and the clerk's pay is an increase of $1,100.

  Campbell, whose husband David is the chairman of the Democratic Party in Auglaize County, will retire on March 21 from Marathon Oil in Findlay where she has worked for 33 years. Presently she is a logistics analyst and oversees trucks and dispatchers in 15 terminals.

  She does not foresee a problem handling her new position for the next two-plus weeks until her retirement because she works "odd hours and has a lot a vacation time."

  "I am honored the board thinks I can handle this. And I'm surprised," she said. "Several board members approached me to see if I'd be interested in the job."

  She refused to specify which board members spoke with her.

  Campbell had been hired at a January board meeting to work at the elections office as a part-time clerk. She said she was attending the meeting this morning in that capacity.

  "My goal is fair and impartial elections and I want to run them right," she said.

  A poll worker herself for 20 years, she counted more training for poll workers at the top of her agenda.

  "They're really the bottom line on how well an election is run," she said during a brief interview with three area newspaper reporters, whom she categorized as "vultures" at the end of the interview.

  As to the oversight by the state, Campbell said "it's just something we'll have to work through."


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