September 17, 2014

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High court asked to take name off ballot

LORAIN — Republican Michael Scherach has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to remove Lorain Law Director Pat Riley from the November ballot.

In court documents filed Friday, Scherach wrote that the Lorain County Board of Elections violated the law when it voted along party lines last month to leave Riley on the ballot because the form naming him the Democratic Party’s candidate can’t be found at the elections board’s offices.

Democrats contend that Riley became the party’s nominee to run for the remainder of former Law Director Mark Provenza’s four-year term when he signed a form accepting the nomination and that document, known as a form 289, was handed to elections board Director Jose Candelario at an April 30 meeting.

Candelario has said he gave the form to Allyson Hurst, a Republican elections board worker and the daughter of Lorain County Republican Party Chairwoman Helen Hurst, on either May 1 or May 4. Allyson Hurst said during a hearing last month that she got the form naming Riley interim law director after Provenza resigned in March, but never saw form 289 that made him a candidate in the November election.

She said she tried to tell Candelario she didn’t have all of the documents for Riley in June, but he told her she had everything and walked away.

Democrats argue that Allyson Hurst and Marilyn Jacobcik, the elections board’s deputy director and a Republican, should have told Candelario the form 289 wasn’t where it was supposed to be.

Scherach said there’s no proof that the form was properly filled out and filed, although the Democrats who signed it with Riley insist it was.

“We don’t know if they did it right because we don’t have the document,” he said.

Scherach, who served as Lorain’s law director in the 1990s, filed paperwork to run as the Republican candidate at 3:19 p.m. Aug. 19. The deadline was at 4 p.m. that day and Republicans didn’t tell Candelario there was no form 289 for Riley until after the deadline had passed.

Riley did not return calls seeking comment Friday, but Lorain Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Giardini said he wasn’t surprised Scherach has asked the high court to step in. He also said he doesn’t believe Scherach will win the legal fight.

“We did certify it to the proper elections official, the director of the Board of Elections,” he said.

Scherach’s filing came a day after Republican elections board members Bob Rousseau and Helen Hurst tried to fire Candelario, but were rebuffed by Giardini and Lorain County Democratic Party Chairman Tom Smith. It takes three votes to remove a director or deputy director and the vote split along party lines.

Republicans declined to say why they tried to oust Candelario after a lengthy and heated executive session Thursday, although Rousseau said he had concerns about Candelario’s performance.

In addition, Jacobcik announced that she would retire before Oct. 1 at the meeting Thursday and said Friday she wasn’t pushed out because of the Riley dispute in which Giardini has called for her to be fired.

Jacobcik said she had planned to retire in January, but decided to speed up her exit from the elections board, where she has worked for 18 years, because of budget concerns. She said she told Rousseau last week and gave him a letter Tuesday formally beginning the retirement process.

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