Fired Lucas County Board of Elections employee Michelle Dudley landed a $43,201-a-year job in the Department of Job and Family Services thanks to the strenuous efforts of County Commissioner Pete Gerken to get her on the county payroll, and without going through a competitive hiring process.
But when Dudley, former information technology manager for the elections board, applied through a competitive process for a lower-paying job at the Data Processing Board, she came in 10th out of the list of 59 applicants.
The Data Processing Board, which supplies computer information services to most county agencies, on May 3 hired Jeremy Burnat who earned the top score of 38.2, compared with 18 for Dudley. Burnat was appointed network technician II at $20 per hour, or $41,600 per year.
His score was based on his training, levels of certification, and experience.
“[Burnat] had the most certification in the areas that we support,” said Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, who is secretary of the Data Processing Board. “He was walking in with the certifications. Many of our systems you have to receive certifications before you can work on them and get passwords and clearance.”
Lopez also said that Dudley was seeking a salary of $60,000 when she applied for the data processing job. Dudley didn’t get the 5 points for being “within budget,” whereas Burnat did.
Gerken said the reason he wanted to help Dudley land a job was because she is a constituent and because she has “quite a number of certifications.”
Dudley was hired for the vacant position of technology-based trainer I in Jobs and Family Services on May 1 by the Lucas County Board of Commissioners.
"The commissioner presented her resume, and no we didn't talk to anyone else," said Deb Ortiz-Flores, who oversees Job and Family Services and Child Support Enforcement Agency.
She said Dudley was a good hire because she is certified in OnBase software, and that she will have a 180-day probation.
Gerken has taken a keen interest in the Lucas County Board of Elections ever since Republican Jon Stainbrook was appointed to the board last year. Unlike previous Republican members of the board of elections, Stainbrook has had open partisan disputes with his Democratic colleagues. He contends his predecessors let Democratic board members and staffers have their way with the board of election, to the detriment of Republican candidates.
Stainbrook said he didn't want to comment on Dudley landing a job elsewhere. He said, however, that he plans to continue fighting for what he called "transparency and integrity" on the elections board.
"We are watching every step that Democrats are taking and that does not sit well with the Democratic machine that runs Lucas County from top to bottom," Stainbrook said.
Stainbrook and his Republican ally on the board Tony DeGidio went after Dudley, a Democrat, in December after former Republican director Ben Roberts accused her of hacking into the email accounts of Republican board employees.
Dudley survived that investigation, but was fired after the next director, Meghan Gallagher, gave the board a report in April saying that Dudley had walked way from her job testing voting machines with the result that test votes were left on the machines when the March 6 primary election occurred. Dudley was fired by a 4-0 vote of the board, with the two Democrats in agreement.
That’s when Gerken stepped in and emailed and called around to other county officeholders to get her hired.
Lopez said Gerken asked her if she had a job for Dudley, but Lopez said she had no vacancies.
Gerken said he doesn’t have an opinion on whether Dudley was fired fairly or unfairly from the elections board.
“I have no opinion on that. She’s an at-will employee, so you can get fired from the board of elections for cause or no cause,” he said.