Butler County elections board member to resign

The Butler County Board of Elections will look for a new Democratic member after Kathy Wyenandt steps down Monday after serving only half of her four-year term.

Wyenandt will also resign as Central Committee chair with the Butler County Democratic Party, and both resignations are because of plans to pursue another opportunity, which she declined to talk about further.

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"I'm moving out of party leadership. It's time for me personally and it's time for some fresh perspective," she told the Journal-News. "It's always hard to decide when the time is right for something, but I felt it was time to make some changes."

The Butler County Democratic Party will have 15 days from Monday to make a recommendation to fill the vacancy, according to the Ohio Secretary of State. Outside of 15 days, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted would be required to make an appointment.

The Butler County Democratic Party will meet Dec. 21 to make its recommendation to replace Wyenandt.

All 88 county boards of elections in Ohio are required to have two Democrats and two Republicans serve as board members.

The party won’t decide on who will succeed Wyenandt as Central Committee chair until January, said Butler County Democratic Party Executive Chair Jocelyn Bucaro, who said she’s “deeply appreciative” of Wyenandt’s service.

“I know she will continue to fight for our Democratic values and the basic idea that if you work hard you should be able to get ahead,” Bucaro said. “I am sad to see her departure from her roles, but I am so excited to see what comes next for her.”

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Wyenandt was appointed by Husted to the board seat in February and said she would miss serving with her Republican counterparts — Butler County GOP Executive Chair Todd Hall and Butler County GOP Central Committee Chair Chris Wunnenberg — and fellow Democrat Frank Cloud, who is the elections board president and serves as an at-large member in the Democratic Party's leadership.

Only two names have surfaced as possible replacements for Wyenandt on the elections board: former Board of Elections employee Tiffany Harmon and former West Chester Twp. trustee candidate Mariann Penska.

“If she does resign on Monday, as expected, I will run for her unexpired term on the board,” said Harmon, 32, who worked for the board from 2011 to 2015. “I’m familiar with the processes and (state law), and I think that makes me a great asset to the board, and to the voters of this county.”

Penska said she began to be politically active locally in 2008 — from the precinct to the county levels — and had an unsuccessful bid for West Chester Twp. trustee this past November. Now she said she’s looking for “other ways to contribute to Butler County, some place I can really leverage my education, my experience and my tool set I’ve built over the past several decades.”

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