Windsor trustees to appoint 1

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It remains unclear who will serve alongside Robert Burcham and Donald Rigney for the next four years as a Windsor Township Trustee. But whoever it is those two men who will be making that decision, not the voters.

In November 2013 two seats were up for grabs and Burcham secured one with 338 votes. Mark Johnson won the other seat with 302 votes. However, between the time he filed and the time he was elected, Johnson was awarded disability and found out that his income prevented him from serving.

“I had to file for disability because of a blockage in my heart,” Johnson, 51, said. “I got a letter from the State of Ohio that said I couldn’t draw disability and pay into PERS (Public Employees Retirement System.).”

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After being made aware of the state’s decision, Johnson – who served as trustee for 16 years in the past but was not an incumbent – asked if he donated his check to the Windsor Township Volunteer Fire Department to start a Christmas fund for underprivileged children he could still serve.

“I was told I couldn’t do that either. That it wouldn’t matter,” he said. “It makes no difference what I do with my trustee paycheck, it still gets paid to me.”

Because of the state’s decision, Johnson chose not to serve.

Windsor Township has 40 miles of gravel roads tended to and maintained by the trustees, and Johnson said the people who live along those roads are the ones who will be affected by the trustee’s race.

“The trustees have no blacktopped roads to take care of so the people who live along the highway and vote for trustees have nothing to lose or gain by who wins,” he said. “I just want the people who voted for me and supported me to know why I am not representing them and I want them to know I appreciate their support.”

Johnson’s appointed replacement should be named at the trustees’ 7 a.m. meeting this Saturday, but even that decision hinges on an opinion of Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson on who that person can be.

“The (Windsor) trustees requested an opinion about two weeks ago and it has been written,” Anderson said. “I represent the trustees and I can’t comment on the advice I have given them or what they specifically asked.”

Prior to talking with Anderson, The Tribune learned the person Anderson was writing an opinion about is Scott Wilson, a Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy and the race’s third-highest vote getter. The opinion concerns whether a sheriff’s deputy can serve as a trustee.

Wilson said he is aware the trustees asked for an opinion, but that’s the extent of his knowledge of the process.

“If the opinion says I can serve then I’ll serve,” he said. “I don’t know anything until someone tells me.”

If he can’t, a former long-term incumbent wants the appointment.

Donald “Bear” Adkins served as a Windsor Township Trustee for 24 years before getting defeated in 2010. He ran again in November receiving 219 votes. He said if Wilson is unable to serve as trustee, he should get appointed.

“The people of the township deserve to know who is representing them and that it’s done the right way,” he said. “I was fourth in votes. It ought to be offered to me. I think everyone should listen to the voices of the voters. I am an interested party and was on the ballot. Why should two people get to decide what 219 voters want?”

Windsor Township Fiscal Officer Timmy Hayes said regardless of whose appointed by the trustees it will be in adherence with set criteria.

“It’s at the trustees’ discretion who gets appointed,” Hayes said. “It will be done legally and the trustees have the right to appoint anyone who meets the guidelines.”

Hayes said the appointment couldn’t be made until after Jan. 1 when the elected person, Johnson in this case, does not present himself or provide bond or oath. From that point, Hayes said, the trustees have 30 days to appoint his replacement.

Two requirements, Hayes said, are to be voting age and reside within the township.