SHEFFIELD TWP. -- The Republican running against Lorain Law Director Pat Riley has filed a protest with the Lorain County Board of Elections -- challenging whether Riley’s name should be on the November ballot.
The protest, filed Monday, came just days after the elections board voted 2-1 along party lines to place Riley on the ballot despite a missing document naming him the Democratic candidate in the race to serve the final two years of former Law Director Mark Provenza’s term.
“The issues really are not that complex. I mean, where’s the form?” Michael Scherach said.
Democrats contend that Riley became a candidate as soon as the missing document, known as a form 289, was handed to elections board Director Jose Candelario on April 30 after Lorain Democrats voted to make Riley the temporary replacement for Provenza and their candidate in November.
Provenza resigned in March due to a jail sentence in his latest drunken driving case.
Candelario, a Democrat, said he gave the documents from the meeting to elections board employee Allyson Hurst -- a Republican and the daughter of Lorain County Republican Party Chairwoman Helen Hurst -- on either May 1 or May 4.
But Hurst said she got only the form making Riley the interim law director. She said that when she tried to tell Candelario she didn’t have everything about a month later, he told her she did and that “everything’s good” before walking away.
Hurst said she told elections board Deputy Director Marilyn Jacobcik about the missing document, but they never mentioned it to the Democrats again until after the 4 p.m. Aug. 19 filing deadline. By that time, Scherach, who served as law director in Lorain in the 1990s, had filed as the Republican candidate.
Riley said he wasn’t surprised Scherach decided to challenge the elections board’s decision to put him on the ballot at a meeting last week, but he is disappointed.
“I just don’t understand why my opponent would continue to take action to prevent the voters of Lorain from deciding who should be the law director,” Riley said.
The fight over whether Riley should be on the ballot has led to anger on both sides, with Lorain Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Giardini suggesting Republicans may have deliberately lost the document and that they ignored their duty to tell Candelario it was missing.
Sheriff’s Detective Donald Barker conducted an investigation but has said he didn’t find any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. He has forwarded his report to prosecutors for review.
“(Scherach) is confident in his position that absent the form 289, the board acted contrary to law in certifying Mr. Riley as the candidate,” said David Graves, chairman of the Lorain Area Republican Party.
Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes said it remains unclear whether Scherach can file a protest with the elections board and the board would have to decide whether to hold an additional hearing.
“We’re looking at it as kind of discretionary,” he said.
If Scherach’s protest isn’t accepted or if he loses, he could still challenge Riley’s name being on the ballot to the Ohio Supreme Court, Innes said.