Rice challenges Tuttle in race for Clark County Clerk of Courts

Sheila Rice, left, will face incumbent Melissa Tuttle, right, in November's general election for Clark County Clerk of Courts. Contributed

Incumbent Melissa Tuttle will face Sheila Rice in November’s general election race for Clark County Clerk of Courts.

Tuttle, a Republican, was elected clerk in 2016 after defeating longtime clerk Rob Vincent, who served for nearly three decades. She fended off a challenge from within her own party from Tina Bleything in the primary election that was conducted by mail using absentee ballots in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rice, a Democrat, did not face a challenger in the primary.

One of the biggest points of contention in Tuttle’s four years as clerk has been a dispute between here and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Clark County Common Pleas Court judges.

In June of 2018, Common Pleas Court Judges Douglas Rastatter, Richard O’Neill and Thomas Capper jointly filed three separate orders to the clerk’s office claiming Tuttle was failing to meet their demands.

By May of 2019, the judges had issued nine court orders against Tuttle. At the time, Tuttle said the judges were targeting her because she “is a young female that took office after a male who was in office for 40 years.”

ExploreClark County clerk says judges are harassing her because she's a woman

Tuttle says she has been effective in her office and has tried “countless” times to communicate with the courts, but has been stonewalled.

“I wish my countless attempts to communicate with the court would have resulted in a single meeting to discuss how we can better operate,” Tuttle said. “The animosity from the court has hindered the morale of the entire office."

If re-elected, Tuttle said she would immediately send an invitation to the judges for another meeting in an attempt to “reconcile our differences."

Tuttle holds law degree with a concentration in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Criminal Law Practice from Capital Law School and a bachelor’s degree in Law, Economics and Business from the University of Toledo.

Melissa Tuttle. Contributed

She has been a practicing attorney for more than six years. Prior to that, she worked in banking.

Her proudest accomplishment as clerk, Tuttle said, was upgrading the Southern Village Title Office to the first multiple lane drive-thru in the state, as well as having all title offices in the county approved to accept passport applications.

Tuttle said she wants to continue serving as clerk in order to “improve the clerk’s office and be innovative on ideas and services.”

“There are many more projects that need done to modernize the clerk’s office and improve the practices of the clerk’s office," Tuttle said.

Rice is a graduate of Springfield High School. She works as a realtor for Coldwell Banker Heritage and as a property appraiser for the Clark County Sheriff’s office. Rice is also a small business owner of The L, a local event center.

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Prior to working as a realtor, Rice severed as owner and deputy registrar of Ohio License Bureau South for 20 years. She also served as deputy Clerk of Clark County Common Pleas Court.

“From my experience working at the clerk’s office, I know how important the work is,” Rice said. “I am running because I am concerned that is this office is not providing reliable service that Clark County residents expect and deserve.”

Sheila Rice. Contributed

Rice said she believes the most important issue in the clerk’s race is “without a doubt the restoration of the relationship between the clerk’s office and the court system.”

If elected, Rice said she plans to meet with “judges, magistrates, the prosecutor, the public defender and other court personnel to restore communication.”

Rice said she believes her prior experience working in the clerk’s office, along with her years of serving as an owner of a BMV, would allow her to cultivate a more positive relationship with the judge’s.

“I have an attitude of servitude. I love serving people with day to day issues and directing them to the right resources,” Rice said. “I am a proven public servant and I feel blessed to understand people and I truly love to serve people. I will not disappoint.”

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Hear from the candidates

Leadership Clark County Forum

6-8 tonight

Livestreamed from Leadership Clark County’s Facebook and YouTube pages

Bio boxes:

Melissa Tuttle

Age: 33

Education: J.D. in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Criminal Law Practice from Capital Law School; bachelor’s degree in Law, Economics and Business with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Toledo.

Current employment: Clark County Clerk of Courts; attorney at law

Past employment: Attorney at law, PNC, Huntington National Bank, CVS Pharmacy

Candidate website: Facebook.com/Tuttle for Clerk/

Sheila Rice

Age: 65

Education: Graduate of Springfield City High School

Current employment: Realtor for Coldwell Banker Heritage, property appraiser for Clark County Sheriff’s Office and small business owner of event center, The L

Past employment: Owner and deputy registrar of Ohio License Bureau South; Deputy Clerk of Clark County Common Pleas Court

Candidate website: sheilaricecoc.com

When and where you can vote early in person

Early in-person voting hours are uniform across Ohio’s counties.

Today-Friday, Oct. 9, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Monday-Friday, Oct. 12-Oct 16, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Monday-Friday, Oct. 19-Oct. 23, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 24, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 25, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Monday-Frdiay Oct. 26-Oct. 30, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 31, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 1, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 2, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Early voting location:

Clark County

(New location for early voting) Turner Studio Theatre at the Clark State Performing Arts Center

300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield

Mailing Address: PO Box 1766 Springfield, OH 45501-1766 Telephone: (937) 521-2120 Fax: (937) 328-2603 E-mail: elections@clark.boe.ohio.gov Website: www.boe.ohio.gov/clark/

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