Pickaway News Journal

Wed, Aug 23, 2017

Petition problems lead to possible shake-up on city council

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Jeffrey Hallinin (right), pictured with his wife, is sworn in for a seat on city council Tuesday by Gary Kenworthy, city law director. (Photo courtesy of CGTV)

CIRCLEVILLE - Circleville City Council may see several new faces next year after the Board of Elections failed to certify the petitions of four current council members and one potential candidate for the May primary.

As it currently stands, Tammy Bowers (D) and Jeffrey Hallinin (R), both council-at-large, along with Josh Ford (R), third ward, and Sister Monica Justinger (D), fourth ward, have failed to be certified for the election to retain seats on council due to technical issues with their petitions filed with the Pickaway County Board of Elections.

Hallinin was sworn in at Tuesday's regular council meeting to replace Dorcas Morrow, a long-time at-large council member who retired at the end of 2016. His petition was filed for the first ward seat.

The Board of Elections certification was held Wednesday at the board office.

According to Michele Lockard, director of the Pickaway County BOE, Hallinin has already submitted a letter requesting reconsideration of the board's determination. Affected candidates have up to 60 days before the election to submit a request for a reconsideration hearing.

Lockard said Bowers' petition was declared to be short the required number of signatures because of a discrepancy between the number of signatures listed and the number reported as witnessed on the form. She was filing to retain her council at-large seat.

Justinger's paperwork, she said, failed to include signed circulator statements, which invalidated the petition. She was filing as a candidate for council at-large, though she currently represents the fourth ward.

For Hallinin, Ford and potential candidate Nathan Burge, Lockard said the paperwork listed only "City Council" as the office being sought, which was not specific enough due to the various positions on council between wards and at-large seats.

"Since there are multiple council offices, they should have been specific and also listed the ward on there," Lockard said. Prior to the decision, she said Judy Wolford, Pickaway County Prosecutor, suggested the board put themselves in the place of someone signing the petition because it was unclear what office the candidate was seeking.

If a reconsideration hearing does not reverse the current decision, Lockard said these officials could still file as write-in candidates for their desired council seats. The deadline to register as a write-in is Aug. 28 for the Nov. 7 general election.

Independent candidates, including current first-ward council member Julie Strawser, have until May 1, the day before the primary election, to file, Lockard said.

Currently, the candidates certified for the election are:

City Treasurer:
- Brent F. Bowers (D), incumbent

Council President:
- David M. Crawford (D), incumbent
- Michael R. Parks (D)

Council At-Large (3 seats available):
- Michelle L. Blanton (R)
- Todd Brady (R)
- Tom E. Spring (R), incumbent.

First Ward:
- Zachary Brooks (D)

Second Ward:
- Barry D. Keller (R), incumbent

Third Ward:
- Katie Logan Hedges (R)

Fourth Ward:
- Sheri Theis (R)

Democrats will be asked to decide the nominee for Council President on the May 2 ballot, Lockard said, since two Democratic candidates are vying for the position and only one will move on to the Nov. 7 general election. There will not be a Republican primary held in May at this point since there are no contested races for Republicans.

There will be three issues on the primary ballot, however, including ADAMH (a county-wide levy issue with Ross County); an emergency tax levy for Miami Trace Local Schools; and an additional tax in the Village of New Holland for a community center.

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