Mahoning County Board of Elections certified countywide and state legislative candidates
By David Skolnick
The Mahoning County Board of Elections certified all countywide and state legislative candidates to the May 6 ballot, though its members discussed disqualifying a county-commissioner candidate.
The candidate, who was certified Tuesday by a 3-1 vote, is Pete Ceci, who is challenging county Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti in the Democratic primary.
At issue was that two people who circulated Ceci nominating petitions — Ernest Beachman and Danielle M. Hamill, who both live at 3631 South Ave. — had the candidate’s name printed instead of their own in the section called “circulator’s affidavit.”
State law is silent on that issue, said Mark Munroe, board chairman and a Republican.
Beachman and Hamill said they would attend Tuesday’s board meeting to explain the error, but didn’t show up, said Deputy Director Thomas McCabe, a Republican.
“The affidavit is irregular, but it’s not a fatal defect,” Munroe said.
“When it’s a close call we err on the side of access to the ballot,” he added.
But board member Robert Wasko, a Democrat, said the body received conflicting information from the county prosecutor about Ceci’s eligibility and voted against certifying him.
Board Vice Chairman David Betras, the county Democratic Party chairman, was initially inclined to vote against certifying Ceci, but said the secretary of state would just return the issue back to the board for another vote to break a tie.
“My philosophy is to allow access to the ballot,” he said. “I don’t have enough information to make a decision.”
The board vote was 3-1 in favor of certifying Ceci.
Betras — who is being challenged by Ceci for Democratic precinct committeeman — said the board likely would lose the case if it went to court because “we’d be defending an action we haven’t fully developed.”
Before Tuesday’s meeting, Ceci sent emails to a Vindicator reporter complaining about Mahoning Valley politics.
“For years, I felt frustrated by what I perceived to be an attitude of entitlement and nepotism among some of our local politicians,” he wrote. “It’s a shame that my perceptions of this Valley have been right all along.”
After Tuesday’s meeting, Ceci said, “I’ve had a predetermination of politics in the Valley. This [decision] helps. This is a step forward for me.”
Friday is the deadline to file objections to candidates and issues certified to the ballot.
Rimedio-Righetti, seeking her second four-year term as commissioner, said she won’t file an objection.
“I want the letter of the law followed,” said Rimedio-Righetti, a former 29-year elections-board clerk. “I’m not concerned about him on the ballot. I’m not going to file a protest.”
The board of elections certified countywide and state legislative candidates as well as all issues and liquor options Tuesday for the May 6 primary.
In Columbiana County, all countywide and state legislative candidates except Martin Elsass of Columbiana, a Libertarian who was running for the 5th Ohio House District seat, were certified Tuesday.
Elsass was disqualified for failing to declare that he’s a Libertarian on his nominating petitions, according to Adam Booth, director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections.