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New law director to be selected soon

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:50 PM

A new Norwalk law director is expected to be named in the near future.

Mayor Sue Lesch said she has talked with four candidates about the position. Two submitted rsums, Douglas Clifford of the Huron County Public Defender's office and Assistant Law Director Stuart O'Hara. Lesch said two other candidates have expressed interest in the job but did not submit rsums because they had not yet informed their current bosses they were applying for the position.

"I talked to a number of good candidates," she said. "I'm pleased with the people I spoke with."

Current Law Director Jim Conway is leaving the post in May to take over as Huron County Common Pleas Court judge, replacing the retiring Earl McGimpsey. The law director is not only the prosecutor of criminal cases for Norwalk and Monroeville but also responsible for providing legal counsel for the city.

For example, Conway represented the city in negotiations with the fire and police departments and helped hammer out the deal with Aldi for the stretch of parking lot that will become part of Cline Street. He also provides legal guidance to the mayor and city council regarding city laws and ordinances.

"My major concern is to select a candidate with a good grasp of criminal and civil law," Lesch said. "Someone with integrity. Someone who will work well with all the different publics within city administrations and outside."

The law director position pays about $75,000 in 2007 and $77,600 in 2008.

O'Hara, who will make about $55,000 in 2007, has been the assistant law director since 2002. Prior to that he served as the assistant Erie County prosecutor for 11 years after spending more than 10 years in private practice.

"I believe that my background and experience provides me with a unique combination of qualifications for the position of law director," O'Hara wrote in a letter accompanying his rsum. "I have dealt with numerous issues and problems which face a modern municipality, including criminal defense and prosecution, public and private finance, contract drafting and negotiation, real estate, employment/personnel matters and civil rights."

Clifford has worked in the public defender's office for the last six years, primarily representing children in abuse or neglect cases. His 2007 salary from the public defender's office is about $33,500, but he also has his own private practice, handling criminal and custody cases, landlord tenet disputes, administrative appeals of wrongful termination and collection disputes, according to his rsum.

"While I continue to enjoy my work very much, I am interested in using my professional experience to enhance the community of Norwalk and believe that my talents and skills could best serve the community as the Norwalk law director," Clifford wrote to Lesch.

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