Delay on picking Wodtka’s successor

Marsha Wodtka still doesn’t know who will serve as her temporary successor when she retires at the end of this month.

Wodtka announced in July of last year that she would not seek an eighth term as Fayette County’s circuit clerk, and submitted in June of this year her plans to retire on July 31.

In her retirement letter, Wodtka recommended that the Fayette County Board appoint Mary Sue Ruot to serve as the circuit clerk until the November general election.

But the board has delayed action on that appointment, and board Chairman Steve Knebel said it would not be prepared to vote on his appointment until August or September.

However, that position will be filled on a temporary basis.

Knebel said that Fayette County Resident Circuit Judge S. Gene Schwarm, chief judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, is prepared to fill the vacancy on a temporary basis through an administrative order.

The board will subsequently vote on Knebel’s appointment of a temporary circuit clerk. By law, the county board has 60 days after Wodtka’s retirement date to fill the vacancy, and the person appointed to the post must be a Democrat.

Ruot, Wodtka’s choice as her successor, has served as a deputy clerk for 28 years. She is the Democratic candidate for the circuit clerk’s post in the general election.

Nona ‘Nonie’ Beckman is challenging Ruot for that position in November.

In explaining the delay on picking a temporary successor at Thursdays meeting, Knebel said he is waiting to hear from the Republican Central Committee on its recommendation for the appointment. The Democratic Central Committee has also recommended Ruot for the position.

Knebel said that during a recent conversation with the chairman of the Republican Central Committee, Randy Pollard, he gave Pollard until the date of the next regular county board meeting, Aug. 12, to submit a recommendation.

Board member Dan Barenfanger asked why any board action is required.

I dont understand why we have to do this so close to the election, Barenfanger said.

Barenfanger said a short-term appointment would not be required if a county officer were off of work because of an illness or pregnancy.

The difference, Knebel said, is that the circuit clerks office is being officially vacated through a retirement.

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