MEDINA — Pat Geissman shook things up this week when she became president of the board of county commissioners, effectively canceling a colleague’s chances of taking the helm of a five-county planning board.
Geissman switched most of the committee appointments for board members and also the county departments to which they serve as liaisons.
“I think this is the best opportunity to move us around and put us in different positions,” she said Tuesday. “I think it’s time for some new blood out there.”
The changes meant Commissioner Steve Hambley lost the county sanitary engineer’s office and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, both of which he has worked with for a number of years.
Both went to Commissioner Adam Friedrick, who replaced Sharon Ray this year.
“I have no problem with bringing in a new commissioner to be involved,” Hambley said. However, he said his particular expertise could best be used in certain positions.
“This is not an opportune time to remove myself from being involved with the NOACA board,” he said.
NOACA handles transportation and environmental planning for five counties: Medina, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain.
Hambley has served on the board for 14 years, with two years as president. He is scheduled to be president again this year. He said if he doesn’t serve, it’s possible a Medina County official may not serve as head of the board for another five years.
“This is no reflection on Adam (Friedrick), but you’re talking about five separate county governments and about 45 elected officials. There’s a lot in the process that you’re totally unaware of because unfortunately you have not been involved with NOACA,” he told Geissman.
Geissman said Hambley made similar changes to board and department appointments during one of his terms as president of the board, a rotating position. She also said she took into consideration the fact that Hambley interviewed for the position of Brunswick city manager last month.
“He is looking for greener pastures. This is not politics. It is doing what is best for Medina County,” she said after Tuesday’s meeting, noting she wanted a smooth transition and not someone who could leave abruptly.
However, Hambley said he believes Brunswick has moved on and is no longer considering him as a candidate. His priorities remain with the county, he said.
“All of the rest of this has nothing to do with that job,” he said.
“Candidly, I think this is political retribution,” Hambley said later. “We’re of the same party and we’re to work together as a team. That means benching somebody that’s been successful? It makes no sense.”
All the commissioners are Republican.
After the meeting, Geissman said she decided to make Hambley the alternate representative on the NOACA board, a position she originally gave to herself. This means Hambley will be able to vote when Friedrick is not present and he can serve on committees with the agency.
“I think this will be a great team for Medina County. I really do. It’s the best of both worlds,” Geissman said.
Friedrick said he was ready to tackle his new positions.
“I’m here to do whatever the county needs. I think I can help the county as far as taxpayers and voters are concerned. I’ve got a business background.”
He added his committee and department appointments “are things that interest me.”
Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.