SIDNEY — Details of a court decision that will allow Mayor Mike Barhorst to run for re-election to Sidney City Council are now available.
Four candidates will be fighting for three at-large seats on council this November as a result of the decision.
This week, Shelby County Common Pleas Judge James Stevenson directed the Shelby County Board of Elections to allow Sidney Mayor Michael Barhorst’s name on the Nov. 3 ballot. Sidney residents will choose among him, incumbents Janet Born and Rufus Sims, and newcomer Joseph S. Ratermann.
The Sidney city charter calls for the members of council to select who the mayor of the city will be.
Barhorst filed the suit, seeking a court order to certify his nominating petition and statement of candidacy, on Aug. 21 in response to a ruling made earlier that week by the Board of Elections rejecting his nominating petition.
In the courts conclusion it states, “The court is required to give deference to the Board’s decisions on election matters. However, in this case all the Board apparently did was look at the number of lines on the petition that were filled out and compared that to the number cited by Barhorst in his certificate without any regard to what a line contained.”
The board didn’t certify his petition because “the Circulator Statement indicated the number of signatures witnessed but contained more signatures appearing on the petition. … A circulator cannot witness fewer signatures than what appears on the petition.”
In Barhorst’s suit it said, “Barhorst, however, accurately represented that the petition contained 29, rather than 30 signatures, since one of the signers of the petition both printed and signed his name as permitted” by an Ohio Supreme Court case.
The board denied this allegation along with saying that Barhorst relied on outdated case law. The board’s position was that Barhorst should have stricken the printed name from the petition.
The court’s decision continues on to say, “Accordingly this court finds that the printed name on line 16 of Barhorst’s petition was not a signature as defined by stature. Therefore, Barhorst correctly reported the number of signatures on the nominating petition. The board abused its discretion in rejecting that petition.”
Barhorst said in a press release Thursday, he would not have infringed on the court’s valuable time by filing suit had he not believed that he had both acted properly and had complied with Ohio law when he filed his petition for candidacy with the board.
“We’re going to review the decision and look at our options going forward,” Shelby County Board of Elections Chairman Christopher Gibbs said. “We’ll accept the judge’s opinion.”
The deadline for the finalized ballot was Sept. 11, so the board can get absentee ballots printed in plenty of time. The court worked with the Board of Elections and Barhorst to get a decision ready for that date.
Gibbs said it is too early to tell if this will change the process the board goes through when they certify petitions in the future.
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow on Twitter @SDNAlexandraN