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Perez, Foy win county seats

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

Grant County Republicans appointed two of their own Saturday to fill open seats in county government.

Current Election Deputy Kathy Foy has been chosen to fill Pam Harris’s office as County Recorder after Harris won a term as County Clerk in the November election, and Upland Town Manager Jonathan Perez won Jim McWhirt’s spot on the County Council as McWhirt, the council’s current president, moves into his new role as County Auditor in January.

Foy and Perez were elected by members of the GOP precinct committee in a caucus held Saturday morning. Party Chairman Darren Reese said turnout was “higher than average,” with 54 of 60 eligible committee members present for the vote.

Perez won his seat with 35 votes, beating out candidates Chuck Poling Jr., who received 10 votes, Gary Henderson, who won 6, and William “Fritz” Lehman with 2 votes.

Perez was chief of staff under former mayor Wayne Seybold and later economic development director for Seybold and for current Mayor Jess Alumbaugh until Alumbaugh cut the position. Before working in city government Perez was also communications director for former 5th District Rep. Dan Burton.

“Jonathan has made a career in public service. He knows the ins and outs,” Reese said.

Perez said it was “very humbling and rewarding” to win the appointment.

Poling, who came second to Perez in the County Council race, attributes his loss to the fact that he didn’t have the party’s backing.

He said he had hoped to bring some “change” and a new perspective to the County Council.

Poling noted that Perez was a key member of the Seybold administration. 

“I don’t know Jonathan Perez that well, but we keep electing the same people that were in there with (Seybold), that’s the reason were in this hole that we’re in,” Poling said.

The Recorder’s race took two ballots to decide, since no candidate won a majority in the first vote.

After the first vote Bobbie Solms, who received the fewest votes, was eliminated from the ballot. Foy won 33 votes to defeat Karen Wood’s 21 in the second ballot.

Foy has been election deputy in the clerk’s office for the last year and a half. Before that, she was a manager at Marsh Supermarket for 20 years. 

She credited some of her win Saturday morning to the endorsement of outgoing Recorder Pam Harris and the support of Jerry Shull, chair of the Election Board and former party chairman.

Shull encouraged her to run in the first place, Foy said.

Shull said he was impressed with how Foy handled the recent election cycle and he also wanted to help bring in a younger generation of elected officials like Foy.

“Being a past chairman, I see that our party needs to recruit some youthful new faces and we need to elect a replacement that has good work ethic and has abilities to work with people,” Shull said. “That’s why I supported both Perez and Foy.”

Perez said the age difference between him and many of the county’s elected officials was not lost on him, either.

“My candidacy is a reflection of a new, younger generation… outside of (Treasurer) Tiffany Griffith and myself I don’t think there’s any other elected officials in their 30s in the county government,” Perez said.

Foy is eager to start her work as recorder, which handles the preservation of the county’s records.

“I’m looking forward to the new challenge. I feel like I work better and strive better when I’m being challenged with something. I’m one who doesn’t like to fail, so I’ll make sure I do everything I can to succeed,” Foy said.

Saturday marked Wood’s second election defeat this year, after she lost a primary contest against Pam Harris in the race for the GOP nomination for clerk.

“I’m disappointed, naturally, but I do know that Kathy will do a great job,” Wood said. “We had three great candidates runnning.”

Wood’s term as Mill Township Trustee expires at the end of this month. She said she was hoping she could start as recorder in January, but now she’s not sure what’s next for her.

“I’m just gonna sit back for a little bit and absorb,” Wood said.