2 candidates seek Butler County treasurer role

The Butler County GOP will decide between two candidates who want to be the next county tax collector, former treasurer’s chief deputy Mike McNamara and Fairfield Twp. Fiscal Officer Shelly Schultz.

The deadline to apply for the treasurer’s office opening was Monday, and while two other people considered running, only McNamara and Schultz applied. The position is vacant after the GOP Central Committee picked Nancy Nix to be the new county auditor, replacing former auditor Roger Reynolds who has been convicted of a felony and therefore can’t hold office.

West Chester Twp. Fiscal Officer Bruce Jones told the Journal-News previously he would be running, but he backed out. Scott Dalesandro, who ran against Jones and Nix for auditor, also considered running, but declined to apply, according to GOP officials. Neither could be reached for comment on why they didn’t apply.

Nix won by a 127 to 49 margin, or 72%, of the Central Committee members who cast votes over Jones on Feb. 2. Dalesandro didn’t receive any votes.

Chris Wunnenberg, chair of the Central Committee, told the Journal-News the screening committee will vet the two candidates Wednesday and the entire Central Committee will make its selection March 2. He said the screening committee is comprised of himself, GOP Chair Todd Hall, screening committee Chair Kelly Heile and 14 countywide representatives — two from each of the regions.

The screening committee will vote to designate each candidate as highly recommended, recommended or not recommended. He said Nix was highly recommended, Jones recommended and Dalesandro was not recommended.

He said they developed the screening committee system many years ago after a couple potential candidates up for recommendation turned out to be liars and in one case had a criminal past. Now sheriff’s department background checks are part of the process, along with candidate interviews, resumes and other application requirements.

“We decided well the best way to do it is create a screening committee that has the responsibility to look into their background, check their resume, did they really go to school,” he said with a laugh referring to newly elected Republican U.S. Rep. George Santos of New York whose background turned out to be embellished.

Wunnenberg said they have had instances where more than one person received a “highly recommended” designation because the candidates were well qualified for the position.

Some have called the selection process a popularity contest, in fact Dalesandro, a newcomer who recently moved back to Hamilton after 17 years in Vancouver, Wash., told the Journal-News he was probably “wasting” his time going up against Nix and Jones.

Wunnenberg said it was “extremely either naïve or they just don’t have any basis in reality,” to think the Party would choose an unknown who just moved here over someone with county government experience.

“Why would the Party appoint someone they didn’t know to fill an important seat in the county government?” Wunnenberg said.

The treasurer’s chief role is as the county tax collector, banker, overseeing the investment of about $500 million and chairing the land bank, to name a few responsibilities.

McNamara wore a number of hats with the county before he left in August 2020 to become Clermont County’s development director.

“I worked for the state treasurer for three to four years and then was chief deputy in the treasurer’s office with Nancy for five years and we did a lot of great things together,” McNamara said about wanting the job. “I really enjoy that office, what it does, the people that are in it, that’s where we started the land bank and I’d like to see where we can take it into the future.”

McNamara started his career with the county in the Clerk of Courts Office in 1998; was chief deputy for Nix from 2010 to 2015. He moved to the development department in 2015 serving as the executive director for both the Port Authority and the Land Bank.

He has a master’s degree in public administration and says he has experience in government finance from all his various positions. He now runs an office of about 30 people in Clermont County.

“When you’re looking at a substantial background to run this particular office I’m the only person that has managed hundreds of millions of dollars in collections, multiple special use funds as well as a general fund budget,” he said adding he also has managed a large staff.

Schultz has been a Certified Public Accountant for 21 years, is one of only 146 certified government financial managers in Ohio and is a certified payroll professional. She has been the township’s fiscal officer since 2017 and also works as a self employed CPA and accountant handling payroll, accounting and tax needs for clients at multiple CPA firms.

Nix hired her to reclassify records for the land bank and create numerous accounting reports. She also worked with Nix training her staff and helping the office switch over to a new accounting software system.

“I’ve had a lot of work with her staff and I worked great with them,” she said. “I got to see what they do every day and I feel like I could bring a positive impact to them.”

She said she is not a political person but believes her credentials will speak for themselves.

“I have loved government since I’ve been in it and I feel like my expertise have done amazing things for Fairfield Twp. and I want to bring that countywide,” she said. “I think I’m very qualified for the position as opposed to people that just get it sometimes that aren’t qualified because they’re popular. A lot of people don’t know me so I might have a hard time getting it but I feel I’m the most qualified.”

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