Incumbent Dave Wadsworth held off challenger Louis A. Tagliaferro in Tuesday’s Republican primary for Medina County clerk of courts.
Wadsworth surpassed Tagliaferro 16,312 votes to 9,392 with 95.73 percent of unofficial results tabulated late Tuesday at the Medina County Board of Elections.
Wadsworth, 57, will square off against Democratic candidate J.R. Russell, of Medina, in the Nov. 8 general election.
“We’ve pretty much called it,” Wadsworth told The Gazette. “Of course you don’t know until the fat lady sings.
“I want to thank the Republican voters in Medina County. I ran a good, clean campaign.”
Wadsworth is running for his second full term. He was appointed by the Medina County Republican Central Committee on Jan. 8, 2011, to complete the unexpired term of Kathy Fortney, who retired.
In November 2012, he was elected by voters to a four-year term.
Tagliaferro, 60, has never held public office, although he ran unsuccessfully for a Medina Board of Education seat.
Tagliaferro’s campaign has made references to issues in Wadsworth’s past.
“He’s been plagued by one controversy after another,” he said. “I don’t think the citizens of Medina County want someone carrying around that baggage.”
A member of his 2012 election campaign sent out a letter to clerk office employees urging them to help the campaign because they could lose their jobs if he was not retained.
After he was elected in 2013, Wadsworth was sued by his former chief deputy, Julie Kauffman, in federal court on allegations that he fired her in retaliation after she told the county prosecutor’s office that Wadsworth had misused public funds during his campaign.
Wadsworth said he’s not allowed to discuss the out-of-court settlement with Kauffman.
“I signed a confidential settlement,” he said.
In 2013, Wadsworth was charged in Medina Municipal Court with misusing public funds during his campaign. He completed a yearlong first offender’s rehabilitation program and the case was dismissed last year. The records have been sealed.
“It is all in the past,” Wadsworth said. “I’m trying to stay positive and above the mudslinging. People want a clean campaign.”
Tagliaferro, of Medina, banked on his management experience in the workforce helping him in the clerk of court job. He is a sales manager for AT&T and said he’s been in retail his whole life.
“Management is management,” he said. “There are certain management skill sets you have to have.”
Wadsworth’s office handles a budget of $2.2 million and manages 40 employees. He operates seven divisions in four locations, including title bureaus in Medina, Brunswick and Wadsworth.
He said his office is all about technology, efficiency and customer service.
“My employees love their jobs,” he said. “I’m sorry I had to terminate some people. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“I keep costs down and maintain a high level of customer service. People are greeted with a smile and helped right away.”
The clerk of courts office serves as the business office of the common pleas courts, domestic relations court and the Ohio Court of Appeals in Medina County. The clerk creates and maintains the court files.
Before becoming clerk, he spent nine years as a Brunswick city councilman. He also served as vice mayor in Brunswick.