No confidenceWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office must treat the Lucas County elections process as a crisis situation and provide every possible element of oversight and guidance to ensure the Sept. 13 primary election is not compromised. The Secretary of State’s current administrative oversight does not provide confidence that enough is being done to prevent untold damage to the already wobbling integrity of Lucas County elections.
It is no secret that the Lucas County Board of Elections (BOE) has been under siege since Jon Stainbrook was elected chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party. For more than two years, Stainbrook and his associates have threatened to sue the BOE, have sued the BOE and have made professional life difficult for a number of people who committed no greater sin than somehow not behaving in a way Stainbrook wanted.
His long quest for the appointment to the BOE, where such respected people as Michael Beazley and Dee Talmage once served, compromises and makes suspect its ability to operate legitimate elections. Stainbrook is accompanied on the board by his longtime attorney, Anthony DeGidio, who is there to vote as Stainbrook guides him and has shown zero inclination to bring an iota of independent thought or consideration to this most important of duties.
The BOE was not perfect at its best, but there was progress being made as former administrators Linda Howe and Jeremy Demagall struggled with trying to devote energy and time to their jobs while under constant public attack from Stainbrook, who has yet to offer any constructive plans for the BOE, just a continuing headhunting mission against his perceived opponents.
The recent warpath tactics to remove several BOE employees, just weeks away from the next election, shows no moderation or willingness to cooperatively improve the situation. It is a scorched-earth approach that has the BOE existing in a state of fear and uncertainty.
Secretary of State Jon Husted has not distinguished himself in serving Northwest Ohio. Did his office even perform the basic background checks on Stainbrook and DeGidio? Has his inclination to avoid dealing with the Stainbrook-created chaos granted de facto permission for the turmoil to thrive? His office first told the BOE to solve its own issues, then caved and allowed the Aug. 8 firing of two employees, one of whom, Kelly Mettler, had served since 1994. The employees were fired, not for job performance issues, but for dubious “irreconcilable differences” with Stainbrook and DeGidio.
If the Secretary of State’s office does not increase its oversight and guarantee the BOE can run an efficient and honest election, the resulting lack of confidence and potential legal issues will rest squarely on its shoulders.
No one expects better behavior from Stainbrook. Everyone should demand a better effort from Husted. If the chaos is allowed to continue, the only vote that will be believed is a resounding vote of no confidence in the process.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.