Democrat Russ Joseph was appointed the new deputy director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Wednesday morning, replacing Sarah Greathouse.
Joseph, a Beavercreek native, has been prominent in Montgomery County Democratic Party leadership for years. He also served more than a decade as chief deputy clerk of the Dayton Municipal Court, and served brief appointed terms as the Montgomery County treasurer and county clerk of courts.
The brother of longtime Dayton city commissioner Matt Joseph, Russ Joseph most recently served as finance and procurement manager with the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Ohio.
“The board of elections and the work that they do has always been important to me, whether as a candidate for office or just an interested resident, so when the opportunity arose, I certainly jumped at it as a way to get back involved and make a difference here,” Joseph said.
No other personnel changes were enacted Wednesday. The board will now be led day-to-day by Republican elections director Jeff Rezabek and Democrat deputy director Russ Joseph as it prepares for the upcoming May 2 election.
Mohamed Al-Hamdani, chair of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County, said Greathouse did not seek re-appointment as deputy director.
Greathouse served one term as deputy director, having been appointed in 2021. She did not comment Wednesday to the Dayton Daily News.
According to Al-Hamdani, Greathouse informed the Democratic Party late last year that she would not be seeking re-appointment, instead opting to “pursue other options in her career.”
Al-Hamdani complimented Greathouse’s efforts during last year’s Ohio Redistricting Commission debacle, which ultimately resulted in a split primary election and a change in polling location for 60,000 Montgomery County voters, leaving BOE officials under heightened pressure.
“She was there during probably one of the most difficult periods for any BOE in the state of Ohio, as you can imagine, in the last cycle,” he said. “They had so many different elections happening rapidly because of the redistricting mess ... and we really appreciate her hard work and dedication.”
The four voting members of the board of elections are Democrats Rhine McLin (chair) and Barbara Gorman, and Republicans Erik Blaine and Thomas A. Routsong.
Routsong and McLin both declined to respond directly to questions about whether or not board members had pushed for the change in deputy director.
“People change jobs, and there are a lot of vacancies out there,” Routsong said. “That’s (McLin and Gorman’s) side of the fence; (Blaine and I) don’t have anything to do with that.”
Routsong previously called for Greathouse’s resignation in June of last year. The call was spurred by a dispute over Greathouse accepting an application from Democrat Leronda Jackson wanting to run as a write-in candidate for statehouse in the Aug. 2 primary after a February filing deadline imposed by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
A subsequent Ohio Supreme Court ruling found that LaRose improperly imposed that February deadline despite the election being postponed from May to August. The court ordered the election board to accept the filing.
Gorman, who joined the board in August, said “a number of factors” lead to the appointment of a new deputy director. She noted that the candidate filing issue and subsequent call for Greathouse’s resignation occurred prior to her appointment to the board and declined to confirm that it played a part in the change.
“I understand there was some tension and stress over that ... but I think they worked it out and hopefully that won’t happen again,” she said.
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