Harris, Littlejohn face off in Clark County Treasurer race

Michelle Harris, a Democrat who was appointed as Clark County Treasurer in June, will be facing off against Republican Pam Littlejohn during the general election to determine who will hold that position.

Harris was chosen to serve as treasurer after her predecessor Stephen Metzger, who had been in office for over 30 years, retired from the position earlier this year.

Harris' opponent in November’s general election, Littlejohn was a write-in candidate during the Republican primary race. There was not a Republican candidate for treasurer listed on the ballot.

Littlejohn recently retired from working for PNC Bank’s, a company she worked for several decades.

Littlejohn was based primarily in the Springfield area while serving as a branch manager for PNC. During that time she earned the title of vice president along with several others in the bank’s network.

Harris, who has served as deputy treasurer for the county for 18 years, will remain as treasurer at least until September of next year. However, that depends if she wins the upcoming election, which will determine if she will serve a new full term of four years.

The Clark County Treasurer oversees the county’s investment portfolio that totals between $130 million to $150 million. The office is responsible for the billing to collect local real-estate and manufactured home taxes.

Both candidates described the position as essentially the “banker” for the county.

The current annual base salary for the treasurer position is $74,446 and they oversee a staff of seven people.

Whoever wins this election in November will began their four-year term on Sept. 6, 2021, according the Clark County Board of Elections following state rules for when county treasurers take office.

Clark County Treasurer Michelle Harris

Harris said she became the first woman to serve as Clark County treasurer when appointed to that role this year by the Clark County Democratic Party Central Committee.

She was given the go ahead by that committee during a special meeting to fill the vacancy left by Metzger’s retirement. Prior to that she had worked under Metzger as a deputy treasurer for nearly two decades.

Harris, a Springfield South High School graduate, said during her time as deputy treasurer, she gained experience in managing the county’s investment portfolio. She said she also established a program allowing people to pay by credit card as well as created the tax billing file needed to print real estate tax bills.

Credit: HeadshotsColumbus

Credit: HeadshotsColumbus

Once transitioning into her new role, Harris said she was able to keep up that momentum. Harris said she hopes to maintain several programs as well as efforts currently carried out by her office if elected.

That includes working with the Clark County Prosecutor’s office as part of a delinquent tax collection program, utilizing strong budgetary controls with maximum return on county investments and increasing payment options by offering phone and in-office credit/debit card payments.

“So far this year we have processed nearly $2 million in credit/debit payments, more than double last year’s amount,” Harris said.

She also added that “even with COVID and lower interest rates, the treasurer’s office has earned nearly $1.6 million in investment income to date (for this year).”

Harris said another thing that she would like to do if given the opportunity to stay in office is continue to stay up-to-date with the technology used. She said that she overseen technological updates to her office, including the current financial software used in the county, which was rolled out in 2015.

Harris said they introduced a check and tax bill scanning system in 2015, allowing them to post payments electronically. She said they also continue to update the integrated tax software, first used in 2005, that is shared with the county auditor.

Pam Littlejohn

Littlejohn said she has spent over 40 years in the local private financial sector after graduating from Southeastern. She spent the bulk of her career with PNC Bank, working primarily in the Springfield area.

During that time, Littlejohn said she served as a money manager, financial advisor, lender and investor to both consumers and small business owners. She attributes her career to giving her the experience needed and the leadership qualities required to run the county’s treasurer’s office.

“My whole career I have served in the private sector and look forward to bringing a fresh perspectives to the public sector,” she said.

Littlejohn said she was inspired to run for public office as she was looking to retire from the private sector. She said that she was encouraged by several members of the community as well as some elected officials to run for the position.

Littlejohn said that her first course of action if elected would be to tackle unpaid property taxes and work to establish a strategic plan using the input of community groups, other elected officials and local stakeholders.

“I also want to work with our community members to stay in their homes and set up partial payment systems,” she added.

Littlejohn also plans on reviewing the current technology used by county government as well as making adjustments to the current financial system. She said she wants to make sure that the treasurer’s office as well as the county auditor are using the same integrated system.

“I will also work with the treasurer’s office staff to integrate new technologies and streamline county software,” she added

She also said that she wanted to work with those struggling financially to reduce tax payments on their invoices without penalty. That is something that she listed as a top priority if elected.

Bio boxes:

Michelle Harris:

Hometown: Springfield

Family: Husband, two children, two grandchildren

Political Party: Democrat

Experience: Deputy Treasurer for 18 years. Treasurer since June.

Education: Springfield South High School, Clark State Community College

Pam Littlejohn:

Hometown: Springfield

Family: Husband; one son

Political Party: Republican

Experience: Over 40 years in the private financial sector, including with PNC Bank

Education: Southeastern High School, Clark State Community College

How to vote

Oct. 5:

Voter registration deadline. Ohioans can register online or until 9 p.m. at their county board of elections office

Online: Ohio Secretary of State’s office: olvr.ohiosos.gov

Clark County Board of Elections: 3130 E. Main St. (formerly E. National Rd.) Springfield, OH 45505

Oct. 6:

Absentee ballots scheduled to begin being mailed to voters

Early voting begins

Early voting locations:

Clark County: (New location) Turner Studio Theatre at the Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield

Early in-person voting hours for October

Oct. 6-9: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Oct. 12-16: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Oct. 19-23: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Oct. 24: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Oct. 25: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Oct. 26-30: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Oct. 31: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Early in-person voting hours for November

Nov. 1: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Nov. 2: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Election Day

Nov. 3:

Election Day. Polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Voters are able to drop off absentee ballot at their county board of elections office until 7:30 p.m.

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