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TRUMBULL CO. SHERIFF With all arguments in, wait is on



Published: Tue, July 24, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The appeals judges are expected to take about two months on a ruling.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

CANTON -- Thomas Altiere will learn in about 60 days if his re-election as Trumbull County sheriff will be certified.

The 5th District Court of Appeals here listened to oral arguments Monday. Altiere is asking the three-judge panel to force the Trumbull County Board of Elections to certify his November election.

Atty. James Ervin Jr., representing the board, and Atty. Arthur J. Marziale Jr., representing the Ohio Secretary of State Office, which is in charge of elections statewide, said the result should not be certified until Altiere fully complies with the state's campaign finance reporting requirements.

The appeals judges are expected to issue a ruling in about two months.

"The next two months are going to be very difficult," Altiere said as he walked out of the courtroom in the Stark County Administration Building. "It's hard to wait, but I feel great. I think all of my arguments were addressed during this hearing."

Staying put: Altiere, who remains in office because he is the incumbent, said he deserves to be there.

His attorneys, Samuel Bluedorn and Charles Ohlin, argued before the court that the sheriff has answered all the questions posed to him by the board.

"This matter is pending before the Ohio Elections Commission, and they can decide if the allegations are true and if they are true what action to take," Bluedorn said.

"The elections commission can take its own action. He won the election, and that election should be certified."

Judge William Hoffman pointed out that the allegations against Altiere are unfounded.

Ervin stated that the county board had sent several letters to Altiere asking him to correct or clarify his finance reports, but the sheriff did not comply.

"There were sufficient missing checks and other information that the board did not receive," Ervin said. He pointed out that the board voted 2-2 in December on whether to certify the election. The board asked the secretary of state to break the tie.

"Was the vote split down party lines?" Judge Hoffman asked. Ervin said it was but noted the elections board followed the law. Boards of elections have two Republicans and two Democrat members. Altiere is a Democrat.

Judges Hoffman and W. Scott Gwin said they don't want boards of elections deciding not to certify a specific candidate because they don't like the candidate.

The judges noted that the election board members are political appointees and wondered if a board should be able to nullify an election by asking questions on campaign finances reports.

"We don't want boards of elections saying 'I don't like your filing so I'm not going to certify the election,'" Judge Gwin said.

Marziale said a candidate can seek rulings from the secretary of state's office or the elections commission, both of which, he said, can certify election results.




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