BRUNNER CALLS FOR CLEAN SLATE IN CUYAHOGA COUNTY
For Immediate Release Columbus, OH – March 19, 2007 – Pledging to restore trust to elections in Ohio amidst the myriad of challenges facing the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, the state’s chief election officer, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, has asked for the resignation of the four-member board, two Democrats and two Republicans, effective the close of business March 21, 2007.
“Cuyahoga County has historically faced challenges with its board of elections, but we are at a time when these challenges are so great that extraordinary measures are needed to improve the election process in the state’s most populous county,” said Brunner.
The Director and Deputy Director positions in the office are currently vacant, with an interim director serving until these positions are filled. The third in charge position is vacant due to a criminal conviction in January. A search committee from the community is interviewing candidates for the top two positions. “I want the search committee’s efforts to be met by a board that is poised to move forward with a fresh approach to ensuring access, accountability, security and convenience in making elections work in Cuyahoga County,” said Brunner.
Brunner made calls to the four board members Sunday evening, asking them to resign no later than close of business on Wednesday. Secretary Brunner recognized these individuals for their service and commitment to the citizens of Cuyahoga County. She contacted the chairmen of the Republican and Democrat parties in Cuyahoga County to inform them of her action.
Should members resign or be removed from office, the local political party would need to recommend replacements. The Secretary of State appoints members of boards of elections after reviewing recommendations made by county political parties, with two from each party serving on a board of elections.
“With maximum 18-month prison sentences being handed down to two Cuyahoga County election workers last week for their roles in the 2004 Presidential recount, the tremendous problems that surfaced in the May 2006 primary that delayed even the unofficial vote count for 5 days, and the uncertain future of this board as another Presidential election looms on the near horizon, it is incumbent on me as Secretary of State to provide the direction needed to get this troubled board on track. The voters of Cuyahoga County deserve it, the citizens of Ohio expect it, and the rest of the nation will be watching,” said Brunner.
With this action Secretary Brunner has asked for the resignation of the following:
• Board Chair Robert Bennett, a Republican - term ending February 28, 2010
• Member Edward Coaxum, Jr., a Democrat - term ending February 28, 2010
• Member Sally Florkiewicz, a Republican - term ending February 28, 2008
• Member Loree Soggs, a Democrat - term ending February 28, 2008
Those who do not resign by Wednesday will face a complaint and public hearing to be conducted in Cleveland by the Secretary of State’s office at a time and date to be determined. Under state law the Secretary of State may “summarily remove” board members for cause.