December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Election board investigating candidates’ residency

EATON TWP. — The county Board of Elections is investigating whether or not a candidate running for Eaton Township trustee lives where he says he does.

Elections Board Director Jose Candelario said his office received two phone calls last week questioning whether Joseph Russo actually lives at the Cowley Road address he listed when he filed to run in the race.

Russo scoffed at the notion that he doesn’t live where he claims he does and said it was games being played by those who fear him winning the race.

“Why would I say I live at Cowley Road if I didn’t live on Cowley Road?” he said. “My clothes are there, my wife is there, and my kids are there.”

In a candidate information sheet completed for The Chronicle, Russo wrote that he moved to Eaton Township from Olmsted Township four years ago. He said he has owned and operated Eaton Tire Service in Eaton Township for more than 30 years.

Candelario said his office has not yet been able to reach Russo to get documentation to confirm his address and has forwarded the matter to the offices of the county prosecutor and sheriff to help with the review.

The Russo complaint was the second that was made to the elections board in the past few weeks about whether a candidate for office met residency requirements.

A letter questioning whether Paul Biber, a candidate for Lorain school board, was also checked into, but Candelario said Biber provided copies of his lease and other documentation to prove he lives at the address he’d listed when he filed to run for office.

The Biber issue also will be forwarded for review, Candelario said.

Exactly what action the elections board could take now if one of the candidates turned out not to live where they said they did is unclear. The complaints came in after the time period for challenging candidates had expired, but Candelario said the board still has a responsibility to check them out.

If the candidates turn out to have listed false addresses, they likely wouldn’t be able to take their seats if they win their races, but

Candelario said right now there’s no evidence to suggest they did anything dishonest.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.