MAHONING COUNTY A rift between political allies

Commissioners Reese and Sherlock each said the other was out of line.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Their opposing views on the suspension of Clerk Thomas Smith has created a rift between Mahoning County commissioners Ed Reese and Vicki Allen Sherlock.
"She's way out of line on this," Reese said of Sherlock, who spoke out against the five-day suspension handed to Smith earlier this week by Reese and Commissioner David Ludt. "[Smith] has accepted it. Why doesn't she?"
Smith attended the commissioners' meeting Thursday and called the roll for the resolution authorizing his suspension. Afterward, he apologized to Reese, said he accepts the suspension and wants to put the matter behind him.
Stances: Reese said Smith was insubordinate to him during a recent staff meeting by being argumentative. Sherlock was at the meeting and said Smith did nothing to rise to the level of insubordination. Ludt was not at the meeting but went along with the suspension based on accounts told to him by others who were there.
Sherlock said it was Reese who was out of line for originally wanting to fire Smith. When he could not get her or Ludt to go along with it, Reese opted for the suspension.
Sherlock was ill and could not attend the board meeting when Smith was suspended. She issued a written statement, though, saying she felt the suspension was unwarranted and the result of a personality conflict between Reese and Smith.
"Tom is an employee of the commissioners, not just of Ed Reese," Sherlock said.
Sherlock said she would have gone along with a shorter suspension on the grounds that Smith acted disrespectfully toward Reese, but felt that five days or being fired was too much.
Damage: Reese said the matter has damaged his relationship with Sherlock, who has been his political ally, because he no longer trusts her.
Sherlock said that's not a problem for her and that she still wants to work cooperatively with both of her colleagues.
"There are so many more important issues that we should be working on. I hope we can move on from this one," she said.

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