Updated with additional comment from Terry Britton.
Ohio law prevents the same individual from simultaneously holding office as a county commissioner and a school board member, a possible scenario locally if Hillsboro school board member Terry Britton is successful in his campaign for commissioner next year.
Britton said he assumed that since Highland County Recorder Chad McConnaughey holds both a county office and a school board seat at Lynchburg-Clay, the same rules applied to the commission seat.
But the Ohio Attorney General’s office says that’s not the case. On the website of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a publication describes offices that are “compatible” and “incompatible.” Only a handful of dual roles are deemed compatible with being a county commissioner. Among a long list of incompatible offices is being a school board member.
“This index lists specific public positions or offices that are either compatible or incompatible, and enumerates the various Attorney General opinions that have made those determinations,” according to the publication.
Britton at first said Friday that if re-elected to the school board and then elected commissioner, “I would probably resign” from his school board seat. But later, he called back to say he is going to spend more time considering the situation before making a final decision, noting there was a long time before the filing deadline for 2016.
Britton is nearing the end of his first term on the Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education, and is up for re-election to the school board in Tuesday’s election. Last week he pulled petitions for the 2016 county commission seat currently held by Tom Horst. Horst confirmed recently that he is not seeking re-election.
Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins said Friday that she agreed that a reading of the attorney general’s publications indicates that the two offices are incompatible.
“Absolutely,” she said. “It’s not the fact that it’s a county office, it’s specific to each office. Each office must be looked at specifically.”
Other candidates for the two available seats on the Hillsboro school board in Tuesday’s election are Tom Milbery and Michael Salyer.
Britton, a Republican, would run in the 2016 GOP primary for the commission seat. Hillsboro City Council President Lee Koogler, also a Republican, recently pulled petitions for the same seat. The county commission seat held by Shane Wilkin is also up for election next year.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.
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