Losing mayoral candidate will need court’s help to run for school board
ELYRIA — It looks like Elyria school board member Holly Brinda will have to go to court if she wants to run for re-election in November after losing the Elyria Democratic mayoral primary in May, county elections officials said.
Brinda would be prohibited from running under the so-called “sore loser” law, according to Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes.
“It’s the ‘one bite at the apple’ law,” Innes said. “I think it’s about eliminating confusion to the voter.”
However, Brinda and her attorney, David Gareau, interpret the law differently and say Brinda isn’t running for two offices in the same election, which is what they say the law is designed to prevent.
Brinda, who lost the May primary by about 500 votes to incumbent Mayor Bill Grace, said she’s gotten a lot of support from friends who are attorneys as well Gareau, whom she hired to represent her.
“They advise me to turn in my petitions,” Brinda said. “I’ve been elected to this office twice, and think I’ve done an exemplary job and want to continue the process of building a new high school.”
Brinda said she hopes any attempt to stop her from running is not politically motivated. She wouldn’t elaborate on that comment, but she did say she would consider running again for Elyria mayor.
The Lorain County Board of Elections already has a ruling from the office of Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that a person running for a municipal office in a May primary can’t file for a local school board, according to the board’s director, Jose Candelario.
Candelario said he anticipated that Brinda might run again for the school board and asked for the ruling based on a hypothetical situation.
Brunner’s office cited a 2005 Ohio Supreme Court ruling and a more recently enacted Ohio law that states no person “shall seek nomination or election” to a variety of offices or positions at the same election.
Among those prohibited from running are individuals seeking “any combination of two or more municipal or township offices (or) positions as a member of a city, local, or exempted board of education.”
“The issue turns on the definition of an election,” Gareau said. “The statute bars people from running for multiple offices at the same time.”
He said he would recommend that Brinda file for a writ of mandamus — a legal ruling — from the Ohio Supreme Court to expedite the matter. Brinda also could file for the order in Lorain County Common Pleas Court or with the Ninth District Court of Appeals, he said.
Innes said Brinda and Gareau are entitled to their opinions, but “the secretary of state’s office and our office interprets it differently.”
Candelario urged Brinda to file as soon as possible to allow time for the matter to work itself through the court.
He said the board would process Brinda’s nominating petitions the way it does for any other candidate — validating signatures and counting names — but would hold her petitions separately from those candidates whose petitions are accepted.
He also said he thinks that, under the law, the elections board is prohibited from accepting Brinda’s petitions.
The elections board, comprising Democrats Tom Smith and Anthony Giardini and Republicans Helen Hurst and Robert Rousseau, likely will take up the issue of Brinda’s petitions at its meeting 4 p.m. Aug. 30.
Brinda, 49, whose family spent about $25,000 of its own money in her $40,000 bid to unseat Grace, said she’s willing to fight the good fight. However, she said financially “there are limits in how far I’m willing to go.”
“We’re putting four children through college,” said Brinda, who is vice president of fund development for Applewood Center. She is married to sportscaster Greg Brinda.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or email@example.com.
Five eyeing spots on board
ELYRIA — Five potential candidates have taken out petitions to run for the Elyria school board.
In addition to current board member Holly Brinda, who likely will have to wage a court fight to get on the ballot because of an unsuccessful bid for Elyria mayor, incumbents Don Boddy and Kathryn Karpus also have pulled petitions.
Other potential candidates are Manuel Martinez Jr., of Beebe Avenue, who already turned in his petitions, and Jeffrey McCullough, of 11th Street, who took out petitions but has not submitted the completed forms. The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Aug. 23.
Boddy and Karpus declined to comment on the legal issues involved with Brinda’s petitions but said they were proud of the work the board has done.
Boddy, 59, said school board members made the tough fiscal decisions and cut staff through attrition and buy-outs to eliminate a projected deficit of some $20 million to $30 million.
“This will be my last run,” said Boddy, a former banker who now serves as financial manager for Animal Clinic Northview, which has 14 veterinarians and just completed a $5 million construction project. “I don’t think being on the school board is a lifetime obligation.”
Karpus, 54, said Brinda chaired the master plan committee and was instrumental in persuading the Ohio Legislature to change the law to allow the Elyria Schools to seek state funding for the new high school.
The next few years are going to be “very exciting,” said Karpus, a former electrician who works as a development and fundraising consultant.
Brinda agreed, saying the $68 million high school project is “the largest building project in our community’s history.”
Residents of Elyria, Elyria Township and portions of Carlisle Township voted 62 percent to 38 percent in favor of a $45 million bond issue that will help fund construction of a new high school at Middle Avenue.
Brinda said it was hard work to cut the staff, but no teacher lost his or her job without being called back to work, she said.
Compared to the Lorain Schools, which pink-slipped some 260 teachers about a month ago, “We haven’t had to make one fell swoop reduction,” Brinda said.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.