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TRUMBULL COUNTY Lawyers ask appeals court to certify sheriff's election



Published: Sat, May 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The sheriff's lawyers say their client complied with state election laws.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Attorneys representing Sheriff Thomas Altiere are asking the 5th District Court of Appeals to order the Trumbull County Board of Elections to certify the sheriff's November election.

The lawyers say the board's refusal to do so is "an abuse of discretion and a clear disregard of statutes and applicable legal provisions."

Attys. Samuel Bluedorn and Charles Ohlin filed an eight-page brief Friday stating the reasons they believe the court should grant Altiere's writ of mandamus.

The attorneys say that Altiere did comply with the state's campaign finance laws, so the results of his November 2000 election should be certified.

Answer to come: Court officials say the defendants in the case -- the county board of elections and the Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell -- will have two weeks to file an answer.

Officials with the elections board and the secretary of state's office could not be reached to comment.

The sheriff filed the writ in December with the 11th District Court of Appeals, which is located in Warren, but the judges, who all know Altiere, had the case transferred to the 5th appellate court located in Stark County.

The problem: The board and Blackwell say the sheriff's election results should not be certified because Altiere's campaign-spending reports remain in question by the county board and the Ohio Elections Commission.

Blackwell has stated that the law clearly prohibits a board of elections from certifying an election of any person who fails to comply with campaign finance laws.

Altiere's motion says the board and the secretary of state are withholding Altiere's certification because the board "has received, from a private citizen, unsubstantiated allegations" that Altiere's financial statements are "incomplete and inaccurate."

William Jobe of Howland filed the complaints against the sheriff with the board.

"The court of appeals must be cognizant of the dangerous precedence that would be created by upholding respondents' decision to withhold certification from a winning candidate based upon unsubstantiated allegations made against the winning candidate by a private citizen," the motion states.

Still on job: The motion further notes that Altiere is allowed to stay in office, despite the fact his election has not been certified, because he is the incumbent. "However, under a different scenario, in which a candidate defeats an incumbent officeholder, the will of the electorate in choosing a successor could be thwarted indefinitely by a malevolent citizen who files allegations with the board of elections regarding the winning candidate's financial reports," the motion states.

The motion adds that if the board of elections finds a candidate violated the campaign finance laws it can refer the matter to the Ohio Elections Commission or a county prosecutor for further investigation.




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