By Ed Runyan
Trumbull County commissioners are expected to approve temporary new titles today for two of the county’s longest-serving elected officials.
Prosecutor Dennis Watkins and Sheriff Thomas Altiere will get the word “acting” added to their titles for six days at the beginning of the year.
Watkins said the reason is that he is retiring effective Dec. 31 but not resigning. Altiere said that is also the case with him.
Because there will be a gap between Dec. 31, when both men retire, and Jan. 7, when each will be sworn in to their new term in office, Watkins said he decided to ask the commissioners to appoint him acting Trumbull County prosecutor for those six days to avoid any potential concern that the office would be vacant for those six days.
Watkins said he is being “conservative and cautious” in asking for the six-day appointment because he’s not sure that the step is necessary.
As for the retirement, Watkins said he’s 65 and has more than 30 years with the state — nearly 40, in fact — and has “a legal right to my financial future.”
Watkins, who was first elected prosecutor in 1984, was re-elected to another four-year term in November.
Altiere announced during this year’s campaign that he would not run for re-election after 2012. He has been sheriff nearly 20 years.
Ohio law requires elected officials who plan to retire before the start of their next term of office to notify the board of elections in their county of their “intent to retire.” The letter must be filed with the elections board no less than 90 days before the primary election for their prospective next term of office.
The county elections board has nine letters.
They are from Watkins and Altiere (both filed in late 2011), Family Court Judge Pam Rintala (filed in late 2011), Commissioner Dan Polivka (filed in late 2011), Warren Law Director Greg Hicks (filed in July 2011), Warren Auditor David Griffing (filed in June 2011), Niles Mayor Ralph Infante (filed in late 2010), Judge W. Wyatt McKay of common pleas court (filed in September 2009), and Warren Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gysegem (filed in February 2007).
Of those nine, none has resigned, meaning they are — or soon will be — receiving retirement benefits and their salary as an elected official.