OTTAWA — After two rounds of debate in executive session in as many
weeks, the Putnam County Board of Elections voted Tuesday to place Karen
Lammers in the position of Director of the PCBOE. The special meeting
held on March 11 was called after voting on the same issue resulted in a
two-to-two tie during the March 5 meeting.
“We voted on the
director again and went ahead and appointed Karen,” said Virginia Price,
PCBOE chairman. “Someone indicated they were willing to compromise and
so we had a revote.”
Lammers’ position came into question during
the March 5 meeting when BOE member Tom Jerwers made a motion to enter
into executive session to dismiss both Lammers and PCBOE Deputy Director
Shelly Burkhart. According to BOE member Tony Wobler, he and BOE member
Carla Tooman nominated Lammers for the directorship during the March 5
meeting. This nomination, in accordance with BOE reorganization, was
made five times, with the motion made by Wobler and seconded by Tooman.
After several hours of deliberation in executive session, the vote
remained at a two-to-two tie with Wobler and Tooman, both Democrats,
voting to hire Lammers and Republicans Jerwers and Price dissenting.
Neither Jerwers nor Price made a nomination for the position.
BOE members are still at an impasse over whether or not to keep
Burkhart in the deputy director position. Another two-to-two split over
Burkhart’s retention resulted in two voting ties on March 11: 1. To
continue without a deputy director; 2. to advertise for a new deputy
director. According to a written statement made by Wobler and Tooman to
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, no documentation exists that
indicates poor performance by Burkhart.
“I feel that [Lammers and
Burkhart] have done an exemplary job since I came on the board last
fall,” said Wobler. “It’s been running like a well-oiled machine. They
were some of the top elections employees for the state for reporting.”
still in executive session, a nomination was made to offer BOE clerk
Mary Sybert the position. Sybert declined the nomination.
to move forward in the placement process, both the opposing BOE members
and the two in favor of Burkhart’s nomination must submit letters
stating their positions to Husted.
SOS Region 1 Liason Tim Monaco
was in attendance on Tuesday and clarified that Burkart is to remain in
her current role as Deputy Director until the tie is decided by the SOS.
forward, once our office receives the tie vote materials from the
board, the Secretary will carefully review what has been submitted and
consider the statements made by both sides before making a decision,”
responded Matt McClellan, SOS press scretary.
Lammers became the
county’s BOE deputy director on Oct. 6, 2008. She took over the BOE
deputy director position on Feb. 11, 2008. Burkart has been the BOE
deputy director since Jan. 12, 2009.
Jennifer Brunner, Husted’s
predecessor, placed the PCBOE under adminstrative oversight following
what she referred to as a “meltdown” of voting machines during a 2008
special congressional election. The board remained under oversight until
March 2009. Monaco was present during both the March 5 and 11 meetings
as it is common practice for regional SOS representatives to attend
county boards of elections meetings.