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Selecting right HR director is key for county

A panel of citizens appointed to assist Trumbull County commissioners in narrowing the field of candidates for the county’s next human resources director is going about the process of winnowing the field down from the initial 58 applicants.

Commissioners, of course, will make the final decision in hiring a replacement for Trumbull County Human Resources Director Richard Jackson, who retired in February.

Commissioners, who frequently argue and bicker with one another and seem challenged by the concept that they cooperate professionally with one another, now must find a way to make a final decision on the hiring.

That should be a struggle, especially considering they had such a hard time even deciding on creation of the citizens panel appointed to assist in this process.

But we urge them, once again, to put aside their differences and concentrate on the task at hand. Frankly, this hire might be the most important decision commissioners make this year.

That’s because this person will set the tone for all future hirings done in Trumbull County government. He or she will be called upon to advise the starkly divided commissioners board in an environment that, undoubtedly, won’t be light-hearted or kind.

In this regard, former Trumbull County HR Director Jackson fell short. He struggled to keep his cool when his relationship with Trumbull County Commissioner Niki Frenchko deteriorated. He frequently set poor examples for county employees with unprofessional conduct and language in public meetings and in correspondence made public.

That’s why we, once again, use this space to stress the critical importance of hiring someone for this post who not only holds the education and knowledge of Ohio’s hiring and human resources laws, but also who will be professional and level-headed when dealing with all three commissioners, despite frustrations likely to arise out of childish antics in meetings and behind the scenes with employees.

Those ridiculous scenarios include things like angry outbursts, abusive verbiage, constant video-recording of employees and elected officials and an unending supply of finger-pointing. Many of the video recordings are routinely shared by Frenchko on social media in apparent attempts to win in the court of public opinion.

We know a new HR director quickly will become intimately involved in the fray that has devolved into lawsuits, including one filed by a former employee against retiring Commissioner Frank Fuda, labor grievances and even one employee’s attempt, albeit unsuccessful, to obtain a civil protection order against Frenchko.

It’s difficult to describe actions in the commissioners’ office as less than a zoo.

No, we are not trying to discourage HR director applicants. Rather, we simply are painting a picture so everyone seeking the job has a clear and accurate idea of what they could be getting into.

Once a new HR director candidate finally is selected, it is vitally important that he or she maintain a respectful attitude and that, equally, the three commissioners respect the expertise and advice that he or she offers, based on anticipated high levels of experience and education.

Our county’s new HR director must be up to the task of remaining undeterred and professional, despite what is certain to be ongoing squabbling and differences of opinion and attitude among commissioners.

Further, commissioners must find a way to agree on the selection of this new director. We are hopeful each commissioner is approaching the decision committed to hiring someone who is above politics and who will be able to remain professional.

Undeniably, commissioners must be able to disagree with the new HR director — and with one another — while remaining professional.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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