Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
County elections board honors official
Betty Cook had served on the board for 24 years
By William Kincaid
CELINA - Mercer County Board of Elections members opened Tuesday's meeting with a moment of silence for former Democratic member Betty Cook, who died May 8 at the age of 87.
Cook had served on the board for 24 years and had held the position of chairwoman, current board chairman Phil Long noted.
"I told Betty, I said, 'You have the record. I'm not going to try to beat that,' " Long recalled telling Cook last fall when he told her how much he was enjoying being on the board.
Other board members and staff also shared fond memories of Cook.
"She was very meticulous and detailed, and so often we would pass ballots and she would find that little missing thing," Toni Slusser said. "(She was) a very classy lady. She brought a lot of professionalism to the board."
Slusser, a Republican, said that although politically the two "were on opposite sides of the spectrum," they enjoyed an amicable relationship, with her family going to Cook's yard each year during the Celina Lake Festival.
"Betty will be missed," deputy director Deb Sneddon said, adding that when driving past Cook's home on errands, she often pulled in to visit.
"I always thought I would be able to stop one more time," she said with tears in her eyes.
Director Laura Bruns remembered that Cook had a good memory and was tremendously helpful when Bruns and Sneddon were starting out in the office.
Long said Cook will indeed be missed.
"That's part of the legacy that people leave is that we remember things that they did, instituted and, as you say, set a professional tone for the position," he said.
Cook was a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Altar Rosary Society, Ohio Elections Officials Association and Democratic National Committee.
She also was past president, secretary, vice president and treasurer of the Democratic Women's Organization and past chairwoman, vice chair, treasurer and secretary of the Mercer County Democratic Party's Executive Committee.
She was named Democrat of the year in 1994 and 2007.
In other news, board members learned from assistant county prosector Andy Hinders that Celina City Councilman Mark Fleck, Ward 3, cannot run as a write-in candidate for the upcoming general election.
Fleck, a Democrat, had intended to file to run again in the primary election but missed the deadline due to ongoing family medical issues, he had told the newspaper at the time.
Because no primary election was held earlier this month for the Ward 3 position, no write-in candidates can file for the general election, according to Ohio law, Bruns said Hinders had informed the board.
Rather, Fleck will become what is called a held-over councilman after the November election, Bruns said. She said board members advised him to confer with Celina City Law Director George Moore to learn more details about the status, including how long he will continue to hold the seat.
Board members on Tuesday also held the official canvass of the primary election. Twelve provisional ballots and two additional absentee ballots were determined to be valid while two provisional ballots were tossed out.
Provisional ballots are issued on Election Day for possible problematic votes such as when the provided names or addresses don't match registered voter data.