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YOUNGSTOWN Mayor's race narrows to 2



Published: Sat, June 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The independent said he will not run as a write-in.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- And then there were two.

The Mahoning County Board of Elections unanimously ruled Friday to disqualify the candidacy of M. Mike McNair, an independent running for Youngstown mayor, because he did not have enough valid signatures on his nominating petition.

McNair, of Coronado Avenue, publisher of the Buckeye Review newspaper, had 283 signatures on his nominating petitions; 210 are needed for Youngstown mayoral candidates.

Reasons for being cut: But after an elections board review, 115 of them were disqualified for reasons including the signers were not registered to vote, do not live in Youngstown, they gave signatures that could not be read, or they printed their names instead of signing them.

McNair said he was disappointed, but after reviewing the petitions with a board official, he agrees with the decision.

"I can't be angry," he said. "I went down to the board of elections prepared to challenge it and then I saw how they were invalidated. It was clear to me that there were enough bad signatures" for disqualification.

McNair said he will not run as a write-in candidate for mayor. But McNair, defeated last year as an independent candidate for county commissioner, said he will run for another elected position in the future.

Candidates remaining: With McNair out of the picture, the field shrinks to two -- incumbent Mayor George M. McKelvey of Tod Avenue and Percy Squire of Kiwatha Road, an independent candidate.

The validity of Squire's petition has been questioned, but board chairman Mark E. Munroe said Squire appears to be a legitimate candidate.

Squire, a Columbus attorney, recently changed his voter registration back to Youngstown. But his wife, Carol, is a Franklin County juvenile court judge with residency in Columbus since 1997.

A 1983 Ohio Supreme Court case ruled that "the place where the family of a married man or woman resides shall be considered to be his or her place of residence."

Also, an Ohio attorney general opinion states: "A board of elections is under a mandatory duty to determine the validity of nominating petitions whether or not a protest is filed against them."

No action taken: Neither the court ruling nor the attorney general's decision moved the board to take action. Munroe said the board would hear any request for a challenge or protest to Squire's or any other candidate's petition, but it was not prepared to make that determination itself.

"He appears to be a properly registered voter in Mahoning County," Munroe said of Squire. "It sounds like there may be a question. The proper way is for a registered voter to file a protest or challenge."

McKelvey could not be reached to comment Friday. He is expected to file a challenge to Squire's candidacy.

McNair said he would support Squire's candidacy, assuming the lawyer is on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

skolnick@vindy.com




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