JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Board of Elections replaced former Director Duane Feher Wednesday.

Feher, who didn't return a call seeking comment, announced his intention to retire at the last board meeting, according to Charlie Frye, former deputy director, who was named director by the board. Feher, who was chairman of the Ashtabula County Democratic Party, served on the board since 2005 and he was first named deputy director in 2007.

Feher held a "wealth of information," Frye said, and he will be missed especially as the board heads into a presidential election in the coming year.

"I worked with Duane since 2009 and there are a lot of good things that can be said about him," Frye, chairman of the Republican Party, said. "He was a competent administrator here who did a good job with elections. People here wear party hats but he did a very good job of leaving the partisan politics out and administering good and fair elections here in the county."

The board moved Wednesday to name Debbie Newcomb of Conneaut as deputy director. Everything must now be sent to the Secretary of State's Office who will make the final determination on whether Newcomb can hold the position, Frye said.

Newcomb will fill Feher's unexpired term which ends in March, Frye said.

"We're going to move forward with Debbie Newcomb and our goal is to continue to conduct the best elections that we possibly can," Frye said.

Newcomb, the Conneaut City Council president who is not running for another term after this year, said she was named chairwoman of the Ashtabula County Democrats in April.  Newcomb held previous elected offices as a county commissioner and a state representative.

Newcomb said she is pleased and honored to have been selected.

"I think accuracy and running a fair election is important to everyone," Newcomb said. "The board and workers there always do a fantastic job."

Newcomb said she had been planning to step away from City Council, which she would have done whether she got this position or not. Newcomb, who is also the executive director of the Conneaut Human Resources Center, said she will stay on in that role to assist until a replacement is found.

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