Jay Williams seeks views on materials
Independent candidates have no affiliation with another party, the OEC says.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- A candidate in a partisan mayoral election who is running as an independent cannot use terms such as "registered Democrat" or "lifelong Democrat" in campaign materials, the Ohio Elections Commission says.
In an advisory opinion issued Thursday, commission chairwoman Catherine Cunningham wrote that any candidate that uses terms to reflect political party identification under those circumstances would be making a false statement and would be in violation of state elections law.
The advisory opinion was sought by Jay Williams, who is running for Youngstown mayor in the November election as an independent.
& quot;This election is a partisan election in which candidates may first seek the nomination of their respective political parties," the two-page OEC opinion said. "If a candidate is victorious in the primary election and receives the party nomination, that candidate proceeds to the general election where it is appropriate to express a party affiliation in any campaign materials."
According to the opinion, political candidates who file for office as an independent are claiming not to be affiliated with a political party.
"By filing this type of statement of candidacy and nominating petition, you have specifically disavowed any affiliation with a registered political party in Ohio," the opinion said.
The opinion said there is precedent for the commission's reasoning.
In a 2003 case, the elections commission found that an independent Akron City Council candidate's use of the term "Democrat" in yard signs was a false statement, the OEC opinion said.
Williams couldn't be reached. Messages seeking comment were left Thursday for both Williams and a campaign spokesman.
State Sen. Robert F. Hagan, the Democratic nominee for Youngstown mayor, said of Williams, "If he wanted to run and use the Democratic name, he should have run as a Democrat and run in the primary."
There are four other candidates in the Youngstown mayor's race: Brendan Gilmartin, an independent; Robert Korchnak, the Republican nominee; and Maggy Lorenzi and Joe Louis Teague, both independents.