SIDNEY — A complaint was filed Thursday with the Ohio Court of Claims Public Records Division against the Shelby County Board of Elections for allegedly holding a meeting without notifying the public and news media.
According to the complaint (lawsuit), which was filed by R. Michael Johnson, of Sidney, the board allegedly met Wednesday, June 24, in regards to filling the deputy director’s job. He alleges the board met with a majority of a quorum present, which violates Ohio Revised Code 122.21, which requires the board to notify the public of the meeting. It also allegedly violated the Ohio Sunshine Law, which requires media to be notified 24 hours prior to a meeting.
Johnson’s complaint further states that a meeting must be called to order prior to the board entering an executive session to interview candidates. The board must then come out of executive session to adjourn the meeting. No action can be taken during an executive session.
The complaint calls for the board and its chairman, James Kerg, to be investigated for the incident.
The court has accepted the filing of the complaint, which was filed at noon Thursday.
Johnson said he became aware of the meeting when one of the applicants mentioned she was called with an interview time less than 24 hours before the board wanted to talk to her and expected her to walk off her job to be interviewed.
“Every single constitutional right we have stems from our ultimate right to have honest, accurate and honest elections processes, which have the ultimate confidence or the electorate,” Johnson said. “Shelby County has had none of that for years, and the next generation of election overseers are continuing the improprieties of their predecessors.”
Johnson also sent a letter to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. He asked Yost to investigate the complaint, also.
“It is understand that citizenry has the option of filing suit in Shelby County Common Pleas Court. However, one must ask a simple question,” wrote Johnson. ” Should the honest citizens of Shelby County be forced to sue one of their own governmental agencies to ensure the sanctity and appearence of propriety in its elections process? I think not.”
When contacted, Kerg said he hadn’t received a copy of the complaint. He was aware a complaint was going to be filed. The matter will be turned over to the board’s legal representative, Eric Ambos, of the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office.
“I have no comment until I read the complaint,” Kerg said.
Board of Elections Director Pamela Kerrigan informed the newspaper that the board will meet in special session Monday, June 29, at 10 a m. She said the board is hoping to hire a deputy director at the meeting.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.