Montgomery County elections board to get new leaders

The Montgomery County Board of Elections plans to re-appoint Jeffery Rezabek, a Republican, the board's new director and select Sarah W. Greathouse, a Democrat, as new deputy director on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. SUBMITTED
Caption
The Montgomery County Board of Elections plans to re-appoint Jeffery Rezabek, a Republican, the board's new director and select Sarah W. Greathouse, a Democrat, as new deputy director on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. SUBMITTED

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

The top two jobs at the Montgomery County Board of Elections will be in new hands today.

Jeffery Rezabek, a Republican, will be appointed director and Sarah W. Greathouse, a Democrat, will be named deputy director during a biennial reorganization meeting this morning, according to the Board of Elections.

Rezabek, an attorney and former Montgomery County Juvenile Court judge and a state representative from 2015 to 2018, succeeds Jan Kelly, who retired Jan. 15. Greathouse, the special projects coordinator for the elections board the past two years, will take over for Steve Harsman. Greathouse also served a two-year term as a Board of Elections member and prior to that was the Montgomery County Democratic Party’s executive director and a political consultant.

“I think they’re two excellent choices,” said Harsman, who will help with the transition until the end of the year when he plans to retire.

Harsman said he and Kelly were committed to seeing through November’s presidential election and are stepping out on favorable terms.

“The board’s in good shape, so this is a good time all the way around,” he said.

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Rezabek, who’s already been on the job several weeks, called his appointment to serve out Kelly’s term and his re-appointment to a full term Tuesday “the thrill of a lifetime.”

“It is a great group of people. The party politics is checked at the door. They come in and work extremely hard,” he said. “I’ve seen already, they want me to succeed, because if I succeed, they’re succeeding ... If we’re successful, then we’re protecting everybody’s rights and making sure everybody’s vote counts.”

Greathouse said she looks forward to the new role, which also comes with great responsibility.

“The Montgomery County Board of Elections has a long history of executing excellent elections and I look forward to the opportunity to continue that tradition,” she said.

Greathouse helped implement the county’s new voting system and Rezabek has been a longtime Board of Elections rover-troubleshooter, Harsman said.

Rezabek’s salary will be $127,504; Greathouse’s salary increases to $95,014 from $60,008.

Harsman said Rezabek may have a “steeper learning curve” but said he will be a quick study due to his experience with the county’s past and current voting systems as well as his judicial and legislative background.

Rezabek admits he needs to “get up to speed” on some of the behind-the-scenes duties of the county’s top elections official, but is working alongside a seasoned Montgomery County team that “was the envy of the state and maybe even the nation” during last November’s presidential election, he said.

With a budget of roughly $3.5 million, the Board of Elections currently has 26 year-round employees as well as 40 seasonal staff positions along with up to 2,000 precinct officials who work the elections, according to the county.

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Both Rezabek and Greathouse will be appointed Tuesday to two-year terms by the four-person elections board, which will also get a new Republican member Tuesday.

Thomas A. Routsong will replace Kay Wick on the board and begin serving a four-year term along with Democrat Kurt Hatcher, who will be reappointed to the board, which must have an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

Rhine McLin, a Democrat and current board chair, and Republican member Elaine Herrick are in the middle of four-year terms that began in 2019.

Also on Tuesday, the board chair will be selected. Ohio Law requires the chair and director to be of opposite parties.

Combatting disinformation and guarding against cybersecurity threats is an effort that includes the work and cooperation of the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to vendors to county elections staff, Greathouse said.

“As a state, we are a team and it is important that we all move forward together as a group, because good elections everywhere are good for voters everywhere,” she said.

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In addition to helping train the new director and deputy director, Harsman said the elections board will be confronted later this year with reapportionment work, which will take place months later than usual as the U.S. Census Bureau has delayed the release of redistricting data.

Kelly was named Montgomery County Board of Elections director in July 2013. She had served as the board’s finance director and prior to that, was a regional liaison for the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. Harsman has been at the board of elections nearly 31 years and for the past 22 years has been either director or deputy director.

The public can live stream the 8:30 a.m. Tuesday meeting on the @DaytonMontgomeryCountyBoardofElections Facebook page.

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