Monday, September 22, 2014

County gets voter reboot

By CRYSTAL HERBER, Herald Staff Writer | 1/14/2013

It’s official.

The annual Franklin County reorganization meeting Monday prompted a changing of the guard for some positions and more of the same for others. Roy Dunn, Rick Howard, Janet Paddock, Sue McCay, Jeff Curry and Stephen Hunting all were sworn in as elected county officials by Judge Thomas Sachse of Franklin County District Court as about 50 residents and county employees looked on.

It’s official.

The annual Franklin County reorganization meeting Monday prompted a changing of the guard for some positions and more of the same for others. Roy Dunn, Rick Howard, Janet Paddock, Sue McCay, Jeff Curry and Stephen Hunting all were sworn in as elected county officials by Judge Thomas Sachse of Franklin County District Court as about 50 residents and county employees looked on.

Sachse stressed that the decisions made by the six newly elected officials standing before him ready to be sworn in should not be taken lightly. Government officials, whether they agree or not, should strive to do what is best for the people they serve, Sachse said. 

“In my opinion, local government is just as important as state government, it’s just as important as national government,” Sachse said. “The decisions that all of you make and the jobs that you do day-in and day-out will directly affect all of the citizens of Franklin County, so your task is an important one.”

For the past several years, the county clerk has issued the oath of office to newly elected officials, however, since the clerk’s position was changing hands, Sachse performed the duty. Sachse shook hands with the officials after they took the oath of office, swearing to uphold the state and national constitutions.

“My charge to you as you go forward in your duties would be this: Be true to yourselves, your abilities and your character,” he advised. “Always be accountable to the community that you serve and do your best to promote the common good.”

Outgoing Franklin County Commissioners Ed Taylor, District 2, and David Hood, District 3, were thanked for their service to the county, and stepped down to allow new commissioners Howard, District 2, and Dunn, District 3, to fill their seats.

Janet Paddock, likewise, took her appointed spot after taking the oath of office. Outgoing clerk, Shari Perry, who was not present in chambers until after the swearing in, was thanked at a reception Friday.

Four of the six officials standing in front of the judge with their right hands raised had taken that oath before, having previously served.

The new county clerk, Paddock, who defeated 16-year incumbent Perry by garnering more than 70 percent of the votes in the primary, said she has been working hard to become acclimated with her new duties.

“I’ve been in contact with some other clerks,” Paddock said. “And I feel like reaching out to them, I’m starting to make that network that I need to ask questions and get the job done. I’ve done a lot of other things to get prepared for this, and I think I’m as ready as I can be.”

Despite being a little nervous at her first meeting, Paddock said, she is confident in her abilities to fill the position. Paddock said she plans to keep Debbie Hahner as her deputy clerk, but has not made any other staffing appointment decisions. The positions of Clerk II and Bookkeeper currently are being advertised as needing to be filled.

“There has been nothing decided yet, and it’s open for everybody to apply,” she said of the positions.

Also new to public office, Howard said he is ready for the challenge that comes from the sometimes-differing opinions of a governmental body. Howard said he is glad there are four veteran board members who can give him guidance if necessary.

“I hope that I do the best I can for everyone in my district and in Franklin County,” Howard said.

Dunn, who defeated Hood in the Republican primary, had served on the commission four years ago. After being sworn in, he said is ready to move forward with an eye toward continued economic development, a plan that prompted him to volunteer for the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce board position.

“I’m interested in economic development, and I’d like to see continued development not only in the Ottawa area, but also in the county,” Dunn said.

Both Jeff Curry, sheriff, and Stephen Hunting, county attorney, were appointed to their positions before facing an election, making 2012 their first successful election season. Curry said he is looking forward to continuing the work of a “great” organization.

“We want to continue, and I’ve always said ‘we’ll make changes when we see the need for change, but we’ll constantly look to improve our services,’” Curry said, adding the office is looking into improving emergency communications.

Hunting was appointed to the office in May 2012 after two-term County Attorney Heather Jones stepped down from the position.

“I’m really glad for the opportunity to serve the people of Franklin County, and it’s a tremendous privilege,” Hunting said. “And I welcome the challenges that are ahead. I’m looking forward to the next four years.”

Sue McCay, register of deeds, also was sworn in Monday. Treasurer Debbie Hough is expected to take her oath in October to coincide with the end of the fiscal year, which she said is common practice for county treasurers statewide. Both McCay and Hough ran unopposed in the Democratic and Republican primaries respectively.

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