SIDNEY — Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst filed a lawsuit Friday seeking a court order to certify his nominating petition and statement of candidacy for the Nov. 3 election.
Barhorst filed suit in Shelby County Common Pleas Court in response to a ruling Monday by the Shelby County Board of Elections rejecting his nominating petition. Barhorst was running for an at-large seat on Sidney City Council. Under the city charter, council selects the mayor after the general election.
“Due to an inadvertent discrepancy based on my interpretation of Ohio law, the Shelby County Board of Elections did not certify my petition,” Barhorst said earlier this week. “I am in the process of exploring legal options at this time.”
The elections board said Barhorst’s petition was rejected 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.”
The Circulator Statement, explained Chris Gibbs, chairman of the Shelby County Board of Elections, is where the petition circulator affirms they have witnessed each and every signature affixed to the petition and that to the best of their ability each signatory was in fact the person they purported to be and eligible to sign the petition. The circulator must also certify the number of signatures affixed on this statement. The circulator may or may not be the candidate.
Because of the difference, it left Barhorst without enough valid signatures as required by the city charter. The city’s charter requires not less than 100 valid signatures on the petition for people running for the at-large seat.
In his lawsuit naming the Board of Elections as defendant, Barhorst speaks of an informal meeting held at his request at the elections board office Thursday. Barhorst and his attorney met with elections board officials. “During this meeting, the board confirmed that the part-petition at issue … was rejected due to the fact that in the board’s opinion, Barhorst had underrepresented the number of signatures on the petition by one,” according to the suit.
“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 suit continues.
“The board’s position appears to be that Barhorst should have stricken the printed name from the petition. … Barhorst, however, accurately reported the number of signatures as that term is defined under Ohio Supreme Court case law and Ohio statute. There are indeed 29 signatures on the petition, as the printed name does not constitute a signature under Ohio law,” the suit says.
Barhorst is repesented by attorney Bryan Niemeyer of the Sidney law firm of Faulkner, Garmhausen, Keister & Shenk.
The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.