Rhodes gets clerk job

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners Monday unanimously voted to appoint Deputy County Clerk Mark Rhodes to replace Clerk Jamie Six, whose resignation is effective July 31.

Rhodes’ appointment will be effective Aug. 1.

Staffers in the clerk’s office waiting for the news Monday broke into applause as Rhodes left the county commission chamber where he thanked the commissioners for their show of support, as did Six.

Two people applied for the appointment, Rhodes and Paul E. Miller.

Rhodes said he doesn’t plan any changes in the office.

“We will continue to run the clerk’s office the way it has run. We have several projects that have been in the fire, and especially since this is an off-year election, we will continue with those including getting more of our older records online,” Rhodes said.

“We will also continue to work on the grants to turn the remaining non-handicapped accessible precincts into accessible precincts. The precinct consolidation was approved earlier by the commission; we just have to get those notifications out. We still have seven precincts that are not handicapped accessible; we want to work on those and get them taken care of,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes was recommended by Six. Staff also wrote a letter to the commission asking Rhodes be appointed.

“Nothing against Mr. Miller; he is very qualified, but I want to thank the commissioners for honoring my request,” Six said.

The commissioners earlier announced they would open the post to the public and take applications.

Miller and Rhodes were the only applicants. Miller attended the commission meeting after the vote had been taken, although there was no set time for the vote to be taken on the commission’s agenda.

“We already voted, Paul; you’ll just have to run against him in the election,” commission President Wayne Dunn told Miller, who then left the commission office.

Following the meeting, Miller issued the following statement:

“First, I want to congratulate Mr. Rhodes on his appointment as the clerk of Wood County. Second, I recognize and respect the political appointment process of the Wood County Commission. I realized early on that the recommendation of the outgoing clerk and the clerk’s office initial lobbying efforts prior to the evaluation process would be a high hurdle to overcome in a short period of time. Finally, however, my long-term view has always been that the submission of my resume for the appointment was the unofficial start of my political campaign and I look forward to presenting my credentials to the voters of Wood County for their final approval.

“Officially, I will be submitting pre-candidacy papers this week to begin the work of organizing upcoming campaign and fundraising events. I look forward to running a positive campaign to earn the trust of Wood County voters and together with citizen input we will work towards reducing operating costs and improving customer service in the County Clerk’s office thereby, demonstrating the value and commitment of local government services in our everyday lives.”

A question arose about the procedure initially proposed by Dunn for voting at Monday’s meeting.

Dunn distributed slips of paper to fellow commissioners, telling them to write down their choice of Rhodes or Miller, then sign the paper, give it to the county administrator and the decision would be publicly announced.

“I don’t think you can do this. I’d like to see us handle it the way we do everything else; someone make a motion then if there is a second and vote, not voting by ballot,” Commissioner Blair Couch said, looking at Prosecutor Jason Wharton, who attended the meeting.

“We thought this was pretty nifty,” Dunn said about his proposed ballot voting.

“I don’t like this at all, and who is we? I wasn’t consulted,” Couch said.

“There are only two options,” Dunn said.

“There are three options; we can vote for Miller, Rhodes or if we can’t decide, we let the Democratic Executive Committee decide,” Couch said. “I don’t think we can do a ballot.”

State code prohibits the use of ballots, saying officials “may not vote by secret or written ballot.”

Dunn withdrew his suggestion for the ballots.

Commissioner Steve Gainer then moved to name Rhodes to replace Six, Dunn seconded and Couch made the motion unanimous.

“This will give Mark the opportunity to take a leadership role, which he has not had in the past. I hope he will take that to heart,” Couch said.

“Whichever one got it would be OK; they both have experience,” Dunn said.

Rhodes is the administrative assistant in the clerk’s office and has 29 years of county government experience.

Miller has an educational background and experience in public policy, working in both the government and private sector. He is an adjunct professor at West Virginia University at Parkersburg and a public policy consultant for a private nonprofit organization.

The commissioners interviewed both men at the same time during a special session on Friday.

Six announced in late May he would resign effective July 31 to pursue other interests and spend more time with his family. The commission, by statute, has the responsibility of naming a temporary replacement.

The appointee would serve until the results of the 2014 general election are certified. The position would be open to anyone wishing to file for the 2014 election. The appointee had to be of the same political party as Six, a Democrat.

The filing period for the 2014 election begins in January. The winner of the election will serve the remaining two years of the six-year term, which expires in 2016. A general election for the full six-year term will be held in 2016.