Pounds: Gallagher must resignWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
When it was announced Aug. 13 that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was intervening in the chaotic and dysfunctional situation at the Lucas County Board of Elections (BOE), a number of people on Facebook offered immediate “thank you” posts.
We join that applause and recognize the difficult decision that Husted was forced into making; now that some control is being established, the next imperative action is for BOE Director Meghan Gallagher to resign.
The Lucas County Board of Elections is a hotbed of inefficiency and unnecessary drama and stands as a clear obstacle to fair and efficient elections in Lucas County. Its inability to make personnel and policy decisions has brought negative attention and embarrassment to Lucas County.
As Husted wrote: “Since becoming Secretary of State, my office has devoted an inordinate amount of time to mediating the personal and political squabbles of the Lucas County Board of Elections. …
“In Lucas County, the internal board culture is dysfunctional. The underlying operational culture is divisive and threatening. Board members and staff refuse to communicate with others resulting in meetings and conversations that dissolve into worse than stalemate. It is clear after several attempts to work constructively with all parties, including my most recent request for cooperation; this board is unable to meet the minimum operational standards we expect as we prepare for a presidential election.
“The voters of Ohio, Lucas County, and I as Secretary of State, will tolerate this dysfunction no longer.”
So, that’s it, then.
By placing the BOE under administrative oversight, Husted can begin to rebuild the credibility and confidence so crucial to the elections process. There is no secret what is at the root of that problem, and Gallagher, as captain of this sinking ship, has a moral and professional obligation to step aside and allow that rebuilding process to begin. Husted has allowed Gallagher to retain her title but has relieved her of all assigned duties. There will never be a more clear invitation to resign.
This era of BOE operation will be remembered as an utter failure, a humiliation on a statewide level and an example of managerial incompetence that lowered an already pitiful standard in Lucas County.
Gallagher is collecting an annual salary in excess of $85,000; what are voters getting for that investment? What leadership or progress has been seen? Gallagher’s epic failure to control the BOE and its most basic functions has resulted in acrimony and an unimaginable situation for the Secretary of State. There is no logical future for her as BOE director and no clear path for true reform until she resigns or is removed from office.
There are other personnel issues for Husted to deal with at the BOE, but the first and clearest action should be to remove the director and fill the position with someone capable of working with Husted to earn the continuing confidence of Lucas County voters.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.