The independent candidate says Columbus is his 'domicile,' but Youngstown is his 'home.'
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A Democratic precinct committeeman has filed a protest with the Mahoning County Board of Elections regarding its certification of Percy Squire as a candidate for Youngstown mayor.
"I love a horse race, but he doesn't live in Youngstown," said Andrew J. Douglas Jr. of Wabash Avenue in Youngstown, about Squire. "He's a carpetbagger. I have no allegiance to anyone, but if I see an inequity, I do something about it."
Reason for protest: Douglas said he filed the protest to Squire's candidacy after reading in The Vindicator that there is question as to Squire's residency. Squire, a Columbus attorney, recently changed his voter registration back to Youngstown. His wife, Carol, is a Franklin County juvenile court judge with residency in Columbus since 1997.
The board of elections voted last week to certify Squire's petitions after its members said they had not received any information challenging the validity of the petitions.
Squire is running in the Nov. 6 election as an independent against Mayor George M. McKelvey, a Democrat. M. Michael McNair, another independent mayoral candidate, was removed from the ballot by the board last week because he did not have enough legitimate signatures on his nominating petitions.
"I think it's a nonissue," Squire said of the residency question. "Residency is a legal concept. My domicile is Columbus, but my legal residence is Youngstown. My home is Youngstown and always will be my home. I don't dispute where my domicile is. The question is my legal residence and that is Youngstown. Youngstown is my home."
Squire has retained the legal services of Donald J. McTigue, one of the state's foremost election law experts, to defend him against the residency question.
McTigue, of Columbus, is a former chief legal counsel for the Ohio Elections Commission, a former general counsel with the Ohio Secretary of State and represented Common Cause Ohio in a complaint against groups that paid for negative advertisements about Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick last year.
No hearing yet: Douglas' complaint was accepted by the board of elections, but no hearing was scheduled. The board is waiting to set the date until after July 30, the state-designated deadline for protests to be filed against the validity of independent candidates' petitions, said Michael V. Sciortino, board director.
"Could there be another protest? Yes," Sciortino said. "It wouldn't be prudent to hold one hearing and then have to hold another."
McKelvey, who is expected to file a protest, said he had nothing to do with Douglas' protest.
"If we decide to file a protest, I will not use a straw man," said McKelvey, who has retained the legal services of former city law director Edwin Romero for his expected protest. "If we go that route, I will personally file a protest on my own behalf."
Douglas, who has unsuccessfully run for public office, including state Senate and city council, says he has nothing personal against Squire.
"It has to do with where you live," he said. "I've never done anything like this before. But we need a leader for the city who's from here and knows the city's problems. I welcome [Squire] to move his family to Youngstown."