Deputy director of board to retire

John Payne has been at the election board since 1993.
LISBON -- Democrats will be interviewing candidates for an opening at the Columbiana County Board of Elections until Monday if needed.
John Payne, 60, the deputy director, announced Monday he will retire Jan. 31 and start work the next day for U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-6th. Payne said he would be a case manager working with veterans' issues.
Dennis Johnson, the county Democrat chairman and an elections board member, said he and fellow Democratic board member Larry Bowersock have interviewed four people.
Johnson said that any other candidates should contact him to set up an appointment. The elections board is to meet at 2 p.m. Monday.
"I have not made up my mind," Johnson said.
The deputy director's post pays about 44,000 a year.
Payne said his new salary hasn't been set.
Payne will officially retire after 30 years in the public sector. He's been at the election board since 1993.
He earlier served as administrator of the Ohio Valley Business College, where he was also a teacher. He was East Liverpool's mayor for four years and also served three years as the city's president of council. He also taught for 10 years in public schools.
He has a doctorate in public administration from Northwestern International University. He was also given the Spirit of America Award in 2001 from the Ohio secretary of state's office for writing the curriculum to certify that elections officials had extra training.
Payne said the job offer "came out of the blue" before Christmas.
Payne is not a veteran but comes from a military family. His father served in World War I, and both his brothers served in the military. He said one brother, Richard, served in Vietnam and was affected by the defoliant Agent Orange but did not get benefits for years.
Controversial decision
Payne came under fire last year when he told Wilson's campaign to withdraw petitions that lacked enough signatures, and to submit another set of petitions. The second set was not allowed, and Wilson was dropped off the ballot. But Wilson won the primary as a write-in, and then won in November.
Payne said he was offended and hurt by suspicions at the time, but said, "I've learned to cope, not to complain."
Elections operations have become more difficult, especially since the switch to electronic voting machines, he said. Computers make it easier to keep voter rolls, but the entire staff has been cut from 12 to six people.
The Democrats on the elections board may appoint from the election board or an outsider, Johnson said. He added that he will share information about the party's candidate to Republicans on the board.

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