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Latina named to Lucas Co. Board of Elections

By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa

Jan. 23, 2012: A Toledo Latina attorney and former appeals court judge is the latest member of the troubled Lucas County Board of Elections, replacing a former Ohio Democratic Party chairman.

Jim Ruvolo, appointed to the board of elections just three months ago, is stepping down because of increased professional obligations to his health care and political consulting business. Ms. Keila Cosme was selected Thursday night as his replacement by the Lucas County Democratic Executive Committee.

Ms. Cosme became the first Latina to ever serve on any of Ohio’s 12 district courts of appeals when then-governor Ted Strickland appointed her in 2009 to a seat on the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals. She served on the bench for two years, then ran an unsuccessful campaign to keep her judicial seat. 

Keila Cosme

Ms. Cosme currently is pursuing an Executive LL.M. degree (Masters of Law) in International Business Law at Boston University, where she did her undergraduate work. She is a former partner at the downtown Toledo law firm of Cosme, D’Angelo, and Szollosi.

“You manage,…find the time to make everything fit and I did take some time to consider this seriously because I know how important it is,” said Ms. Cosme. “I’ve made a commitment. Obviously, it’s up to the Secretary of State to make the final appointment, but I’m very confident about it.”

The appointment of Ms. Cosme to the elections board comes at a crucial time, as Ohio traditionally plays a big role in the presidential election. 2012 is an important year for both federal and state elections, as voters also decide congressional races and who will represent them in the Ohio General Assembly.

“Now is the right time for a transition, Ruvolo said in a statement. “I hate to leave, but given the constraints with my job and the amount of travel required compared to the importance of the elections this year, staying on was not the right thing to do for the electorate.”

Ron Rothenbuhler, who serves both as Lucas County Democratic Party chairman and chairman of the Board of Elections, expressed his confidence in Ms. Cosme’s abilities, both for her knowledge of legal issues, as well as bringing “the right temperament” to the board.

“It’s a very important year and we want to make sure we have a member on the board who will make a commitment to work together in a non-partisan fashion to ensure the integrity of the election is maintained to the highest standard,” she said. “What I bring to the table is my ability to take a non-partisan approach. Obviously, I think we can all benefit from having someone with a legal background sitting around the table discussing and making decisions.”

Ms. Cosme’s presence means each political party will have legal representation on the board. Her GOP counterpart, Anthony DeGideo of Maumee, also is an attorney.

“I think we’ll have a much better response and ability to have a dialogue. I have the right temperament,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m not a very volatile person in politics. It can only enhance the ability of the board to come to productive resolution in whatever disagreement might present itself during the election.”

The Board of Elections currently is operating without an executive director, just six weeks removed from the March primary. Ms. Cosme will have a hand in deciding who will take over the troubled county agency, which has been marked by controversy and in-fighting for years. Republican Ben Roberts resigned a few weeks ago after just a few months at the helm, following the firings of the top two elections board administrators over their handling of provisional ballots in the 2010 race.

“The position is challenging, but I look forward to working closely with the board, its staff, and the Secretary of State to ensure that the integrity of our election system is held to the highest standards,” Ms. Cosme said in a statement.

Ms. Cosme grew up in Puerto Rico and moved to Massachusetts to attend college at the age of 17. She had to learn English while attending college. She attended the Marshall College of Law in Cleveland. She came to Toledo in 1998 when her husband was recruited to a local law firm.

The couple later opened their own firm with attorney and state representative Matt Szollosi, where she became the managing partner until her appointment to the bench.

On the Internet: https://laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2010/102910/cosme.htm



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Revised: 01/24/12 13:30:40 -0800.





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