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ELECTION BOOKLET Candidate says rush caused mistakes



Published: Sat, August 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The election booklet was mailed before the school board filing deadline.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

CAMPBELL -- An election booklet funded with taxpayer money and sent by the city to its residents incorrectly lists a write-in council president candidate as running for mayor.

That mistake and the omission of a school board candidate from the booklet could have been avoided if the city had waited to distribute it after all filing deadlines had passed, said Juanita Rich, a Campbell mayoral candidate.

The booklet incorrectly lists F. Anthony Fontes of Creed Circle as a mayoral candidate.

Fontes circulated nominating petitions to run for mayor, but mistakes on his documents that would have disqualified him as a candidate led him not to file the papers with the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

Instead, he filed to run as a write-in candidate for mayor, and after holding a mayoral fund-raiser, Fontes withdrew his mayoral write-in candidacy and filed Aug. 8 to run for council president as a write-in. Fontes couldn't be reached Thursday or Friday to comment.

"The election manual is the bible to some people in the city," Rich said. "While I'm campaigning, people are telling me [Fontes] is a mayoral candidate. When I tell them that he isn't, they point to the booklet. It's not fair to the voters in this city. Some people have voted for him on absentee ballots for mayor and he's not even a candidate. The whole thing is so misleading."

What went awry

Concerns about getting the booklet printed and mailed to Campbell residents at least 14 days before the Sept. 27 primary runoff, a city charter requirement, forced city officials to publish the book before all the filing deadlines passed, said Mayor John Dill, who is running for re-election.

It took Home Printing, a Canfield company operating out of the home of Richard Regano, two weeks to print the 4,000 booklets for about $3,000, Dill said. The city has used Regano's company for years to print the booklets, Dill said.

The city mailed the booklet earlier this week -- well over a month before the Sept. 27 primary runoff -- to its residents after the city asked those who filed to run for seats or were considering it to send a statement for the publication by an Aug. 5 deadline.

Those running for mayor and council had until June 28 to file for those seats. But those running as write-in candidates for those posts had until Aug. 8 to file, and those running for school board had until Thursday to file.

Fontes' switch from mayor to council president wasn't known to city officials when the booklet was published, Dill said. Also, city officials didn't receive information from Joseph G. Kral by Aug. 5 that he was a school board candidate, so he is not in the election booklet even though he filed by Thursday's school board deadline.

What's in charter

The city charter lets candidates write a statement of no more than 500 words for the booklet as long as the remarks aren't defamatory about someone. The charter doesn't require the inclusion of school board candidates, but, as a courtesy, the city has allowed them to be a part of the election booklet in recent years, Dill said.

The statements for the booklet aren't thoroughly checked by city officials, Dill said.

Frank D. Tofil disclosed in his statement that he is a write-in mayoral candidate. But that isn't a requirement under the city charter, Dill said.

Dill, council President Robert Yankle, who is running for mayor, and Regano say the booklet is typically mailed to voters around this time. Rich says this year's booklet was mailed earlier than usual.

If anyone is to blame for the error, it is Fontes, Dill and Yankle said.

But Rich isn't convinced.

"It's total confusion," she said. "Why can't you do the right thing and not rush?"

skolnick@vindy.com




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