BRUNSWICK –– Joe Salzgeber, who just filed re-election petitions, resigned from his Ward 3City Council seat Monday evening, following a public hearing called to determine if he could serve simultaneously on Council and as the county recorder.
The conflict became an issue roughly a month ago when the Medina County Republican Party Central Committee appointed Salzgeber to the county position, which was made vacant after Colleen Swedyk was elected as county commissioner. She moved into her new role Jan. 1.
The recorder’s office handles land titles, deeds and provides ID cards to veterans, among other things. Salzgeber had maintained since his appointment his intentions to remain a councilman.
“When I saw that appointment, I did legal research, I reviewed the charter and the charter gave no express prohibition against serving in the position of county recorder,” Salzgeber said Monday.
However, Brunswick Law Director Kenneth Fisher was not as sure that the two roles could exist with no conflicts of interest. He sought a legal opinion to investigate Salzgeber’s dual roles, asking Salzgeber to abstain from voting on Council legislation in the meantime. The resignation came after a public hearing that did not offer a definitive answer.
In stepping down, Salzgeber said he wanted to avoid putting Council, the city of Brunswick and its residents in an unpleasant situation.
“It’s been an honor to serve the residents of Brunswick Ward Three,” said Salzgeber.
During the meeting, Fisher said the law department’s investigation into the situation revealed a conflict, one that prohibited Salzgeber from keeping his Council seat.
“The position of county recorder is incompatible with the position of elected ward councilman,” said Fisher, who sought an opinion from attorneys Heather R. Baldwin Vlasuk and John Larson with the law firm Squire Patton Boggs.
Salzgeber sought his own opinion.
Timothy Reid, the previous law director for the city, wrote that in his opnion the Brunswick city charter, which outlines qualifications and rules for the Council, does not preclude Salzgeber from serving on Council while county recorder.
“A strict reading of the Charter provisions should serve as a caution to council members attempting to expand qualifications for office when the Charter has not specifically done so,” Reid wrote in the letter dated Feb. 7.
Reid also said in the letter that “the Council would place itself in a precarious position if attempts to remove the Councilman were undertaken.”
Salzgeber said he agreed with Reid that attempts to remove him from Council could put him in a sticky spot.
Salzgeber has represented Ward 3 in Brunswick since 2015.
He served as Medina County assistant prosecutor for seven years in both the civil and criminal divisions, which he said makes him familiar with county government operations and personnel.
In his private practice, he has handled numerous real estate matters and court cases, drafted and recorded deeds, liens and other documents with the Medina County and other county recorders’ offices. He prepares deeds for Kingdom Title Agency in Medina.
Holding another elected position while also serving as the county recorder is not without precedent.
Swedyk, who had been recorder for 12 years, was Hinckley Township fiscal officer and recorder for a time.
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