Polivka can serve on elections board

By Ed Runyan



The Ohio Ethics Commission has advised Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka that Ohio law doesn’t prevent him from serving as a member of the county board of elections for about nine months later this year.

However, Polivka, who is also the county Democratic Party chairman, will have to abstain from voting or otherwise participating in matters that present a conflict of interest.

For example, as a member of the elections board, Polivka would have to abstain from participation on issues pertaining to county commissioners, the ethics commission said. He also would be prohibited from participating “in any deliberations, discussions or votes concerning the payment of expenses to the board of elections,” the opinion said.

County commissioners are expected to approve the 2011 county budget, which includes funding for the elections board, today.

Polivka said he would like to serve as an elections-board member from this spring until Dec. 31, 2011, to get some experience with the board “to see the other side of it.” Elections board members earn $1,193 per month.

Polivka would not be allowed to continue as an elections-board member in 2012 if he is on the ballot as a candidate. He would be on the ballot in the spring of 2012 if he runs for re-election as a county commissioner.

Last month, the Trumbull County Democratic Party Central Committee nominated Polivka to fill the remaining term of Ralph Infante, who resigned from the board in January because he decided to run for re-election as Niles mayor this year.

Jim Saker, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor who advises the elections board, said the prosecutor’s office will most likely write a letter this week stating its position regarding the ethics opinion and restating what the Ohio Attorney General’s office has said — that Polivka can serve on the elections board “for a brief period.”

The final decision on whether Polivka can serve as elections board member will be made by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

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