The Fayette County Republican Central Committee voted Thursday evening to appoint Aaron D. Coole as the new Fayette County Auditor.
Mike Smith, who was elected in 2006 and sworn in as Fayette County Auditor in March of 2007, retired from the position March 10, 2017. Coole, the owner of Sears Hometown Stores in Washington C.H. and Jackson, Ohio, received more votes than acting auditor Brenda Mossbarger, who has worked in the Fayette County Auditor’s Office for 20 years. At a previous Republican central committee meeting, Smith recommended Mossbarger for the auditor position.
Since Smith ran for auditor as a Republican, the local Republican central committee was tasked with making the appointment.
At Thursday’s central committee meeting at the Center for Economic Opportunity in Washington C.H., the 19 members of the committee who were present voted between Coole and Mossbarger. Gordon Conn, the vice president of the Fayette County Republican Central Committee, said the election committee decided not to release the exact vote tally.
“There are 24 or 25 members of the central committee and there were 19 in attendance Thursday,” said Conn. “The members of the committee knew a month in advance of the meeting because we sent out a notice to everyone. The results were tabulated by the three people who were appointed to the our election committee.”
Conn said the central committee chose between two very competent candidates and that he is looking forward to Coole’s tenure in the office.
“I’m sure many wish that things had gone better for Brenda and I certainly understand that,” Conn said. “But we’re excited to see what Aaron Coole can do as Fayette County Auditor.”
Both Coole and Mossbarger were given approximately five minutes to make their cases in front of the central committee. Committee members then asked questions of the two candidates.
The Record-Herald met with Coole Friday afternoon to discuss his appointment.
“I really want to run the office as efficiently as we can, make it the best it can be,” Coole said. “I want to work with the people who are there to make it as good as it can be for the taxpayers. We want to be diligent with taxpayer money and use it as wisely as we can.”
Coole recently said he believes his business experience would translate to the auditor’s office well. He has been a self-employed small business owner responsible for all aspects of running a Sears Hometown Store. He’s been the owner/operator of the Washington C.H. store since 2010 and the Jackson store since 2014, and one of the decisions he had to make in throwing his hat in for the auditor position was to step away from these positions at Sears.
“I am going to be stepping away from Sears and there will be a transition period, obviously,” Coole said. “It will probably take a few weeks to fully transition to the auditor role, but my plan is to step away so I can focus on the auditor position full-time.”
In the almost 15 years Coole worked for Sears he had many duties, according to his resume. These duties included selling appliances, lawn and garden equipment, and tools to customers in a retail setting; handling customer service issues in a professional manner; managing employees’ hiring, firing, training and development; operating a delivery crew that delivers appliances for customers; handling a budget and staying current with payroll, rent and other bills; successfully negotiating favorable lease deals; and maintaining high levels of customer service and satisfaction.
“We want to serve the people the best that we can,” Coole said. “We want to give the public what they need. I understand I have a lot to learn and I will be reaching out to learn as much as I can. I think the former auditor Mike Smith, and everyone I talked to says it, did an outstanding job in the office. I have heard that he is leaving it in much better shape than when he found it and I hope to do the same. Just building off of Mike’s good record. I think that people in that office are professionals that I will be learning from and leaning on a lot as I learn the position.”
Mossbarger, who was appointed acting auditor by the Fayette County Commissioners following Smith’s retirement, said the decision was shocking and amazing to some at the meeting.
“It is going to be a big surprise for the upcoming auditor because there is so much up here that no one knows how we do or what we do, so it is going to be a challenge,” Mossbarger said. “As of right now I am acting auditor so I still have my position (as a deputy clerk) here that I will fall back on and get going on sketching. I am years away from retirement, I have almost 21 years built up so I am not going to lose that because of the decision. As long as I stay in the position though, I will continue to do work and my job duties. Business as usual.”
Coole will begin on or before May 1 and will serve the remainder of Smith’s unexpired term, which runs until March 10, 2019. He will have to win at the 2018 primary and general elections to serve as auditor beyond that date.
Editor Ryan Carter contributed to this article.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy