Thursday, November 09, 2000

Piper hopes to smooth feathers

Brushes off rumors he'll 'clean house' after heated race

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — After winning a contentious race for Butler County prosecutor, Republican Robin Piper says he'll do everything he can to make a smooth transition — and that includes keeping employees of the current Democratic administration who do a good job and show a willingness to work with him.

        “I've heard about the rumors going around, but I have never, ever said — even indirectly — that I was going to "clean house,'” Mr. Piper said Wednesday, a day after winning election over Democrat Dan Gattermeyer.

        Mr. Piper knows many people on the staff because he worked there as an assistant prosecutor until 1998.

        “There are a lot of really, really good people in the prosecutor's office, and then there are some who don't pull their own weight,” he said. “I welcome those who will contribute to a polished, professional operation and get beyond the negativity.”

        Mr. Gattermeyer did not return a call requesting comment and was unavailable when a reporter stopped at the prosecutor's office Wednesday afternoon. However, some employees could be heard wondering aloud whether they'd lose their jobs and expressing disbelief at the election result.

        The outcome means that every elected county office in Butler County will be under Republican control next year. The prosecutor's office had been a Democratic enclave since 1965, and Democratic Party Chairman Don Daiker once said retaining that seat was vital to the party's future.

        He and other Butler Democratic Party officials didn't return phone calls seeking comment on the election in which Republicans prevailed in seven contested county races.

        The last time a Republican took over a Democratic-controlled office in Butler County, big problems occurred, said Clerk of Courts Cindy Carpenter. She won the 1996 election over Democrat Mark Baden, and remembers her first day in office.

        “It was total chaos. Equipment was missing, administrative records were missing, new computers had been replaced with old ones, a significant amount of office furniture was missing, desks and safes were locked. We spent the day with the lock smith making the rounds,” she said.

        Even the most basic office supplies were gone. “We had to get pens out of our own purses to use for our work,” said Debbie Grubb, Ms. Carpenter's finance director.

        Mr. Piper said he plans on no big moves right away. “I've just finished running in what was said to be one of the most heated political races in the whole area, and I think we need to allow time for emotions to settle and wounds to heal,” he said.

        Mr. Piper admitted that some of the campaign tactics hurt his feelings. “But my job is to put that out of my mind and go forward,” he said, pledging to do everything possible to foster cooperation with Mr. Gattermeyer and the prosecutor's office staff.


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