The chairman said the elections board has discretion when it comes to reinstating candidates.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County Board of Elections reinstated today four candidates who had been disqualified for the Nov. 6 election because of incorrect or missing dates on their statements of candidacy.
"The board has held for years that statements of candidacy need to be dated," said Mark Munroe, elections board chairman.
"But some recent court cases we have looked at require only substantial compliance and not strict compliance. The board has some discretion as to substantial compliance."
Substantial compliance to the elections board means that candidates who put the wrong date on their statements of candidacy and even those who do not list a date at all are eligible to run for office as long as they came up with good excuses.
Explanations: Those reinstated today were:
U & raquo;Lowellville Councilman Keith McCaughtry, who serves as council president. McCaughtry dated his statement of candidacy Aug. 8 and collected signatures beginning Aug. 4. Candidates have to sign their statements of candidacy before they can circulate petitions. McCaughtry said he mistakenly put Aug. 8 instead of Aug. 4 because he got confused and thought the line for the date of the month was the month line and he put 8 to represent August as the eighth month of the year.
"It was a stupid mistake on my part," he said. "I should have paid more attention."
McCaughtry produced affidavits today from 39 people who signed his petitions on Aug. 4 stating that the statement of candidacy was filled out before they signed the petitions.
U & raquo;Beloit Councilman Matt R. Hutton, who didn't date his statement of candidacy, and of the 15 signatures on his petitions, only nine were ruled valid. He needed 10 valid signatures. Three signatures were ruled invalid by the board because those signing listed Main Street as their address when the board lists their address as Beloit-Snodes Road. It turns out there are two names for the street, Munroe and Hutton said. The board ruled the signatures were valid and returned Hutton to the ballot.
U & raquo;Marilyn J. Bartholomew, a Craig Beach village council candidate, who didn't date her statement of candidacy.
U & raquo;Richard Watson, a Smith Township trustee candidate, who listed Nov. 6 as the date he declared candidacy.
What wasn't accepted: The board also heard and rejected an appeal from Larry Swallow, a West Branch school board candidate, who did not sign two pages of nomination petitions. The board said it had no discretion to validate those petitions and without the signatures on those two pages, Swallow did not have enough valid signatures to remain a candidate. He filed as a write-in candidate after the hearing.
The board also turned down an appeal from Steven Fannin, a 17-year-old West Branch school board candidate. Board officials said Fannin, who did not attend today's hearing, had told them Friday that he was withdrawing his appeal.
The board heard and rejected a protest filed by Samuel M. Moffie, a Boardman trustee candidate, concerning the legitimacy of petitions filed by Jason Vantell, another trustee candidate.
Moffie questioned Vantell's signature. Vantell said the signature on the petition was his and signed his name in front of the elections board as proof.