Board certifies 2 petitions

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The list of candidates running for three Sidney City Schools Board of Education seats in November increased by two after the Shelby County Board of Elections reconsidered the petitions Wednesday during a special meeting.

Petitions filed by Mandi Croft, 213 S. Wagner St., and Kristin Allen, 2429 Savanna Place, were approved by the board after each person submitted affidavits that proved several signatures on their petitions were valid.

Croft had 73 valid signatures on her petition, which the board reviewed on Monday, Aug. 19. Allen had 69 valid signatures on her petition. Both had signatures rule invalid because of fatal errors on their petitions. Both needed 75 valid signatures to appear on the ballot.

With the affidavits being approved by the board, Croft had 77 valid signatures, while Allen had 75 valid signatures. Both will appear on the ballot along with William Ankney, 2020 N. Main St.,

Richard, L Hix II, 768 E. Parkwood St., Michele K Lott, 1198 Marvin Gene Court, John F. Scheu, 8345 Port Haven Road, and Robert W. Smith, 1226 Turner Drive.

Chairman Jim Kerg Jr. opened the meeting by telling the candidates who had asked for a review that each one would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

“There is no legal appeal process in Ohio,” said Kerg of the process of what happens if a petition is denied. “We are given leeway to hold a review or a hearing. Four petitioners chose to have it (petition) reviewed with us.”

All petitions, said Kerg, were initially reviewed by all three board of elections employees — Director Pam Kerrigan, Deputy Director Donald Chupp and Clerk Trina Riethman.

“The board was given all 84 petitions (filed for the November election) and we were given the opportunity to review them. The eight nonfatal error petitions were reviewed individually with the board at our (Aug. 19) meeting. They were moved to the ballot side and 75 petitions were approved.

“The nine petitions (with fatal errors) were in depth reviewed by the four board members,” he said. “We are limited with what we can do. We are dictated by court orders.”

The Secretary of State’s Office also provides rules the board of elections must follow.

“We are here to consider the petitions of the candidates who were not certified,” said Kerg. “A candidate may ask the board to reconsider its decision, but it’s not mandatory for the board to hold a reconsideration hearing. We want the candidates to know that we’ve exhausted everything we could to get them on the ballot. The board can also disagree with the results and can still keep the person off the ballot.”

In addition to Croft and Allen, Seth Opperman, 401 Risha Ave., Anna, who filed petitions for Anna Village Council, and Dale Goubeaux, 1077 Fessler Bixler Road, Russia, who filed for Loramie Township trustee, also asked to have their petitions reviewed.

Opperman failed to fill out the nominating petition in its entirety, as did Goubeaux. The board didn’t approve a reconsideration of the petitions.

“I’ve been a trustee for a while,” said Goubeaux. “You need to do something about this … make it less confusing. Maybe you could make petitions for the individual office. And provide a copy of the petition of what it’s supposed to look like (when it’s completed).

“People don’t want to run for office now. And if they do and there’s a screw up then they can’t serve. We only fill out these petitions every four years and we’re not versed with it.”

Board member Merrill Asher told Goubeaux that in the past board of elections officials had attended township trustees meetings to explain the petition process. Because of changes in board staff and committee, that didn’t happen this year.

Kenneth Henning, Southwest Ohio Regional liaison for Secretary of State Frank LaRose, said fatal errors on petitions were occurring across the state.

“The board has no leeway with fatal errors,” said Henning. “You need to talk to your state representatives and senator and advocate for petition changes. The legislators are the ones who make the laws.”

“I’d like to have a hand in this to make it better,” said Goubeaux. “It’s not as appetizing as it used to be to people to run (for office).”

Kerrigan received all four petitions which were denied at the Aug. 19 meeting. Both Opperman and Goubeaux agreed with the board’s decision.

Both were told that they could possibly be appointed to the position if not enough candidates ran for office. However, they cannot run as a write-in candidate as the Ohio Revised Code doesn’t allow a person whose petition was denied to run as a write-in-candidate.

“We realize you had to go through a process and review the signatures on your petitions,” Asher said to Croft and Allen. “But we (the board) did our due diligence. The staff did their due diligence in saying they were not genuine signatures. All we can go by is the notarized statement (provided by Croft and Allen) and as a board we must accept it.

“I want to make it clear that we did what we were supposed to do according to the Ohio Revised Code,” said Asher.

Both Allen and Croft addressed the board after their letters asking for reconsideration were read by Kerrigan.

“It was a form that was not circulated by myself,” said Allen of the signatures declared invalid. “I signed 100 people and told them they have to sign it (not printed). I was putting my trust in another’s hand (who got petitions for her).”

Croft said she had people tell her they didn’t know what their official signature looked like on the board of election’s signature card, so they printed their name.

Henning said if voters update their voter registration online it will be linked to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the signature on the driver’s license becomes their official signature.

After the petitions of Croft and Allen were approved, Asher made a closing statement.

“We did our due diligence,” said Asher. “The petitioners did their homework.”

Both are now on the ballot, he said, and “let the voters decide who they want” on the board of education.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.