June 25, 2016

Mostly sunny

$200,000 savings claim challenged in Medina County clerk’s race

Maryanne C. Chandler has some more ammunition in her battle to unseat Medina County Clerk of Courts David B. Wadsworth.

And, once again, she has a member of Wadsworth’s own party to thank.

Chandler is citing an email sent by Scott Miller, the county finance director and a registered Republican, asking Wadsworth to stop saying Miller would back up his claim of saving taxpayers $200,000 by cost-savings in the clerks’ office.

“At no time have I verified your statement about the $200,000,” Miller wrote in an email sent to Wadsworth on Monday. “In fact, I’ve corrected your statement on numerous occasions.”

The savings claim has been made by Wadsworth at candidate events and in interviews with reporters.

His campaign website lists among his accomplishments:

• “Saving Medina County taxpayers over $188,000 by reducing office expenses in 2011 while maintaining excellent customer service.

• Reducing my 2012 office budget by $12,000.”

In the email, Miller agreed that Wadsworth has come in under budget, but wrote that “is quite different than stating you saved $200,000.”

Wadsworth said he stands by his claim of saving taxpayer money.

“I think the average taxpayer can see that when you come in under budget, that’s a savings,” he said. “This is money I didn’t spend.

“I’m tired of people spending their entire budget so they can justify next year’s budget.”

Chandler, the Democratic nominee in the clerk’s race, obtained a copy of Miller’s email in a public records request. The email is a public record because it was sent on the county’s email system.

Chandler said the email shows Wadsworth’s campaign is misleading the public.

In his email, Miller wrote that he was writing in response to an op-ed article published in a local weekly newspaper by Joseph Salzgeber, “which mentioned that the $200,000 savings was verified by the Finance Director. I am extremely disappointed that this was mentioned. …”

It was the second time something written by Salzgeber, a Wadsworth campaign volunteer, has sparked controversy. In August, Wadsworth apologized for a letter sent last year by Salzgeber to all the employees in the clerk’s office urging them to help with Wadsworth’s re-election bid and warning they could lose their jobs if someone else won the job.

Wadsworth was appointed clerk of courts in January 2011 by the county Republican Party to succeed Kathy Fortney, who retired.

Fortney, a Republican who served nearly 20 years as clerk, publicly criticized Wadsworth’s job performance and accused him of politicizing the clerk’s office.

“Mr. Wadsworth doesn’t understand the office, and has not taken the time to understand the office,” she said earlier this month. “His political ambitions seem to override what this county needs.”

Fortney also challenged Wadsworth’s cost-savings claim, saying, “There is no way in hell you can save $200,000.”

Both Wadsworth and Chandler filed campaign finance reports earlier this week in the race for the clerk’s job, which pays $60,950 a year.

According to the reports, Wadsworth raised $30,883 and spent $17,926 so far, leaving a balance of $12,956.

Chandler has raised $18,303, spent $12,934 and has $5,367 remaining.

Contact Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.