- Associated Press - Monday, May 12, 2014

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The state’s elections chief on Monday warned members and leaders of a northern Ohio county elections board to prepare for a hearing on their removal, saying the board has been plagued by “dysfunction and overall neglect of duty.”

The letters sent from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted follow a special committee’s recommendation that the top two elections officials in Lucas County be fired and three of its four board members be removed. At least one of them plans to challenge that action.

The Toledo-area board has experienced several years of infighting and accusations of wrongdoing. Last week, a series of missteps and squabbling delayed voting results for hours in the primary election.

“In Lucas County, the petty infighting, personality conflicts and sloppy administration have gone on long enough,” Husted wrote in the letters. “I simply cannot jeopardize the integrity of future elections in Lucas County. The citizens and voters deserve better.”

Husted has said the board failed to make changes recommended earlier.

He is using his authority to start proceedings to remove five people from their positions. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Gina Kaczala, who became director earlier this year, said she inherited problems and immediately tried to address them. She said she’s unsure why the state is taking action against her, and she’ll fight to keep her position.

“How do you fire a director who’s been in a position for two months and expect them to solve all these issues that have been going on for years?” she said Monday.

The deputy director, Daniel De Angelis, declined to comment. Board chairman Ronald Rothenbuhler and members Anthony DeGidio and Jon Stainbrook did not immediately respond to messages left for them with the board office.

Stainbrook, a Republican, and Rothenbuhler, a Democrat, had said earlier they weren’t surprised the special committee recommended the firings and replacements.

Since early March, the board had fired its previous elections director, citing low morale and high employee turnover; faced accusations of misspending money; and opened an investigation into whether a member encouraged an employee to work slowly.

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