Brookfield Trustees Dan Suttles and Mark Ferrara agreed to disagree on the matter of who should replace Ron Haun, meaning Trumbull County Probate Judge James Fredericka will now decide.
Suttles and Ferrara met today and passed a motion declaring that they had reached an impasse on the 12 people who had applied to replace Haun, who resigned.
What happens now is unclear. The Ohio Revised Code states that “the presiding probate judge of the county shall appoint a suitable person having the qualifications of an elector in the township to fill the vacancy for the unexpired term or until a successor is elected.”
It appears that Fredericka, the only Trumbull County probate judge, can choose whatever process he sees fit to name a successor.
A call to probate court Dec. 14 was not returned, and Ferrara and Suttles said they have received no information from the probate court, the prosecutor’s office or the board of elections as to what will happen next.
Suttles said he plans to hand-deliver the 12 letters of interest to probate court on Dec. 16, just in case the judge has any interest in them.
“I know him (Fredericka) to be an honorable person,” Suttles said. “I’ve known him for some time. The thing that bothers me as your trustee is that, honorable or not, he doesn’t live in our community, he doesn’t vote in our community, and, all due respect, he probably doesn’t know our community very well. Because we’re unable to agree, someone from outside of Brookfield is gonna make that decision. For that, I apologize.”
“That was not an easy decision,” Ferrara said. “We gave it a shot, and we’ve agreed not to make this personal in any way, because that wouldn’t be beneficial.”
Suttles said he and Ferrara would not reveal anything about their discussions in executive session. They held two private meetings to discuss the candidates, who were publicly interviewed.
“We had 12 people,” Suttles said. “I don’t think it would be fair to anyone in that group” to discuss the candidates publicly.
Candidate Shannon Devitz said she would have liked to know where the hang-up was.
“Were they fighting over two? Were they fighting over five? Of the 12, not everyone is a viable candidate. I would just like to know,” she said.
Candidate Frederick L. Longley said the trustees were being “very honest, open. I gotta commend them for doing such a good job.”
Candidate Timothy M. Gladis said he will “Trust the process until it’s over.”
Ferrara recommended that all 12 run for the seat when it comes up for election next year. Several told the trustees during the interview process that they were interested in doing so.
The appointee will serve until the end of 2023.
Suttles and Ferrara said the business of the township is getting done with just two trustees, and that they will work with whomever is selected by Fredericka.
“We have a lot of good going on in Brookfield, and we’re not gonna let this derail us in any way, shape or form,” Ferrara said.