ELYRIA — Lorain County Commissioner Tom Williams’ fellow commissioners have denied the Republican a chance to serve as president of the Board of Commissioners.
The post of board president, which carries with it membership on several committees, typically passes from one commissioner to the next on an annual rotating basis, and Williams was due up next in the rotation at Monday’s organizational meeting.
But Commissioner Lori Kokoski, who served as president in 2012, instead nominated fellow Democratic Commissioner Ted Kalo to fill the role. Kalo last held the president’s position in 2011.
Kalo had been slated to serve as board president in 2010 but passed on the job so retiring Commissioner Betty Blair, whom Williams replaced in 2011, could hold the job during her final year in office.
Kokoski said she didn’t think Williams was right for the role given the divided nature of the board, especially in the last six months while Kalo and Kokoski were both in the midst of their successful re-election bids.
“You always try to make us look divided and like we’re against you, and we’re not,” Kokoski told Williams.
She pointed to what she described as efforts by Williams to pit township residents against her and Kalo during the run-up to the election on a sewer rate dispute with the city of Lorain as proof.
She also took issue with Williams’ comment that he didn’t trust anyone in county government during a recent argument over whether the commissioners should lay off their assistants as a reason he was unsuited for the job. Williams said later that he didn’t mean that he distrusted everyone in county government, but questioned whether some employees were giving him all of the information he wanted.
Kalo said Williams’ comments about county workers was a key issue for him as well.
“You can’t say, ‘I don’t trust anybody in county government,’ referring to all our staff, and then expect to work more closely with them,” Kalo said after the meeting.
But Williams insisted he wasn’t trying to undermine the board, but rather was doing what voters elected him to do — monitor the budget and ensure transparency in county government. The other commissioners, he said, were playing politics.
“You’re doing a fine job of making me feel like I can trust you more,” Williams told Kalo and Kokoski at one point during the meeting. “... I think everybody sees this for what it truly is.”
Kokoski, who was named vice president during Monday’s meeting, said Williams was making the board look bad and that needed to stop.
“I guess I’m fighting politics with politics,” she said after the meeting.
Williams, who voted against both Kalo and Kokoski, said he felt like he was being punished for questioning his fellow commissioners and presenting a different viewpoint.
“If you want to punish me ...,” Williams started to say during the meeting.
“Yep,” Kokoski said, cutting him off.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.