A Montgomery County officeholder without a job come January said he will pursue the treasurer’s position, soon to be open when another Democrat, Carolyn Rice, is sworn into the county commission seat she won in November.
For the past 11 years, tax payments have been collected by Rice, who will step down as treasurer Dec. 31. Russ Joseph will step down as clerk of courts the same day — but because he was forced out due in a Nov. 6 loss to Republican Mike Foley.
“Obviously I’m disappointed in my election this past November,” Joseph said. “But I’m really trying to look forward and see how I can continue to make a difference in the community.”
The Montgomery County Democratic Party will appoint Rice’s replacement sometime in mid-January, but it’s unclear how many people are just mulling it over or seriously interested in the job, said Mark Owens, party chairman.
“Some have talked to me about possibly getting in,” Owens said.
Rice said she’s preparing the letter that will announce her resignation as treasurer effective at the end of the month. Rice successfully ran for election in 2008 and re-election in 2012 and 2016.
In addition to collecting current and delinquent real estate taxes, the treasurer also serves as the county’s chief investment manager, the depository for county agencies and the marketing agent for the sale of county notes and bonds.
Owens said the party can’t take action until Rice – though winning election to another post — formally resigns.
“Right now, by law, we can’t do anything until January,” he said.
Joseph also said it’s early in the process but said two years working with former Montgomery County Treasurer Hugh Quill gave him “a real taste” for the position.
“I’m excited to take a look at it and see if it’s a right fit for me,” he said. “The office is very important for our community … whoever it is needs to be ready to get out there in the community and get busy.”
The party must appoint a successor no earlier that five days following a resignation and no later than 45 days after, according to the county’s elections board.
Owens said the party will screen interested candidates before the Central Committee makes a decision at a meeting tentatively scheduled Jan. 17.
The only Montgomery County-wide race Democrats lost was the clerk’s race between Joseph and Mike Foley, which was so close it required an automatic recount.
Current Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, a Democrat, lost his election in a close and recounted Ohio House of Representatives 43rd District race leading some to speculate he might land in the treasurer’s spot. But Dan Foley, who is no relation to Mike Foley, said Monday he is not pursuing the position.
Owens said the party hopes to move as swiftly as possible on a replacement for Rice as the treasurer’s office moves into one of the busiest times of the year – preparing and sending out tax bills in January and collecting the revenue in February.
“I’d like to give the person the longest period of time as we possibly can before they are right in the middle of one of the most important parts of their job,” Owens said.
Rice said she doesn’t know how many people are expressing interest in her soon-to-be former job.
“I don’t know who’s actually throwing their name in the ring for sure,” she said. “It’s not my choice, if that means anything.”
County Commissioners will name an interim treasurer early next month to keep the office running until the Democrats make a permanent appointment.
Rice said Lynn Cooper, current chief deputy treasurer, is a logical pick for the interim position.
“She would be the next in command. That’s a busy time for us as we start printing the bills,” Rice said. “We can’t stop and wait on all of this to work itself out. We need someone responsible, and she does an outstanding job.”
The election of Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, a Republican, to the Ohio House in District 40 will similarly require a new sheriff to be selected by the county’s GOP.
Plummer, who will submit his resignation Dec. 31, has recommended the party appoint Chief Deputy Rob Streck the next sheriff.