Strickland replacing district ODOT directors

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Gov. Ted Strickland has decided to replace Ohio Department of Transportation administrators who run the agency's districts around the state.

Five of the district directors left before the Democrat took office Monday, when the other seven were asked to step down.

They were replaced with acting directors, and permanent replacements will be appointed once Strickland picks a successor for former department director Gordon Proctor, said Keith Dailey, the governor's spokesman.

Proctor, who was appointed by former Republican Gov. Bob Taft, has resigned. Keith Swearingen has been serving as acting director.

Dailey said replacing the district heads at ODOT was part of Strickland's plan to review unclassified employees at state agencies.

While most state employees are classified and have civil service job protection, unclassified employees serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority, such as the governor, attorney general or secretary of state.

Strickland would want to appoint his own district directors because they ''are key implementers of statewide policy,'' said Howard Maier, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, which has worked with ODOT on regional projects.

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