Wellington says candidacy issue should have been settled locally

YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Sheriff Randall A. Wellington said he concluded from the Ohio Supreme Court decision knocking his opponent David P. Aey off the March 4 primary ballot that the issue of Aey’s candidacy never should have gone to the state’s top court.

“The message they sent was it should have been handled by the board of elections,” at its hearing, the sheriff said.

However, the sheriff noted that three of the four county board of elections members are lay people, and only Mike Morley is a lawyer. “I’m sure that it’s difficult for three laymen to interpret election laws,” he said.

At the Jan. 18 hearing, three board of elections members, Morley, Robert Wasko and Mark Munroe voted in favor of keeping Aey on the ballot, with Clarence Smith abstaining.

In making its ruling today, the top court voted 5-1, with one justice not participating, to uphold Wellington’s request for a writ of prohibition barring the board of elections from placing Aey’s name on the ballot.

“I’m pleased but not surprised. I never had any doubt that he was not qualified to be sheriff of Mahoning County,” Wellington said of the supreme court decision and Aey.

Wellington said, and the supreme court agreed, that Aey didn’t meet the minimum supervisory experience standard of two years as a corporal or above as spelled out in state law.

Under the Fraternal Order of Police union contract, Aey, who joined the department in December 1993 and left the department last August, has a right to return as a deputy within one year at his full seniority, $39,924 salary and benefits, the sheriff said.

However, without being specific, the sheriff said: “There are some issues we have to clear up when he comes back.’’ He declined to say whether Aey’s associate degree from Belford University, an alleged diploma mill, is one of them.

Neither Aey, nor his lawyer, Matthew Giannini, returned calls seeking comment about the state supreme court decision.

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