Procedure to replace Six debated

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners have not publicly announced the procedures they will employ in considering a replacement for Wood County Clerk Jamie Six.

The clerk of 26 years publicly announced May 31 he intends to vacate the office July 31 to pursue other interests and spend more time with his family. The county commission, by code, has the task of appointing a replacement from the same political party. Six is a Democrat.

Six has recommended the commissioners name deputy clerk Mark Rhodes as his replacement.

“Historically speaking, the county commissioners, although it is their final decision, have allowed the officeholder to make a recommendation and have accepted that recommendation, but it’s still their decision. Mark has been with me for several years now. He knows the office as well as anyone can. He would be an excellent choice for appointment and that’s who I would recommend to them,” Six said after announcing his resignation.

The clerk has asked the commission previously to make a decision as soon as possible to alleviate anxiety among his employees, and again on Monday he requested the commission take action.

“I know you can’t officially appoint anyone until Aug. 1, but you can announce what you intend to do regarding my replacement, and that would alleviate some of the employees’ anxiety. It would also allow me to work with whoever is named prior to my leaving. That was part of the reason I announced so early, to have that time. Obviously you have my recommendation,” Six told the commissioners.

“I think it would be appropriate for people who are interested in the position to submit resumes, apply, that’s what they’ve done in the past and we can take applications. We could go ahead and announce that’s what we want to do,” commission President Wayne Dunn said this week.

The matter was not listed on the June 17 agenda, the commission’s only meeting this week. The commission’s next scheduled meeting is July 1. The matter could be placed on the agenda, and at that time the commission could state the procedure it wished to follow in considering a replacement, Prosecutor Jason Wharton advised.

“It makes it difficult and confusing to have to put it on the agenda,” Dunn commented.

“I don’t think we should put it out there,” Commissioner Steve Gainer said, noting he didn’t agree with opening up the process to accepting resumes and applications from anyone interested in the job.

On June 13 when Six encouraged the commissioners not to delay making a decision, Commissioner Blair Couch noted, in the past when filling such vacancies, the commission has opened up the process to take applications and resumes from the public, although the commissioners back then ultimately selected the departing officials’ recommendation. Couch said he wanted to open the process and accept resumes for consideration before making a decision.

The matter was continued to the Monday’s meeting for further discussion.

Any appointment the commissioners make to fill the clerk’s office vacancy would be to 2014. In January anyone interested in running could file as a candidate for the office. Once that election is certified, whoever wins would become clerk for the next two years and some days, filling out the unexpired remainder of Six’s term in office. In 2016 the office will be on the ballot again for a full six-year term.

If a quorum of the county commission cannot agree on a replacement for Six within 30 days of the vacancy, the county executive committee of the vacating officials’ political party would name a person to fill the vacancy.