Gains to take legal action if Poland village councilman does not resign
By Jordyn Grzelewski
If a council member who moved out of the village while in office does not resign, Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains will “take the appropriate action to forcibly remove him from office,” according to a letter Gains sent to village Solicitor Jay Macejko on Friday.
After receiving a tip that council member Marc Cossette, who was appointed in May to serve an unexpired term on council that runs through year’s end, had moved to another community but continued to serve on council, The Vindicator confirmed that Cossette sold his house in Poland in October and now resides in Lake Milton. Some village officials had been aware of the move, and Macejko advised them that it was not an issue.
Macejko told The Vindicator on Wednesday he does not believe a section of Ohio law that states a member of a village legislative authority “who removes from the village shall forfeit the member’s office” applies in this case.
“I have no reason to believe that Marc is not in compliance with the requirements to be on council,” he said, adding that the statute “talks about qualifications to become an elected member, so I don’t think we’re dealing with that statute at all.”
In his letter to Macejko, Gains cited ORC 3.15, which spells out the residency requirements for public officials and states that “each person holding an elective office of a political subdivision shall be a resident of that political subdivision” and notes that the law applies to “persons who have been either elected or appointed to an elective office.”
Gains’ letter, which he wrote “in order to avoid the expense of litigation,” notes The Vindicator article published Thursday.
“According to an article which appeared in The Vindicator ... it appears that Mr. Marc A. Cossette has moved his residence from Poland village, where he currently serves as a Poland councilman, to Lake Milton,” Gains wrote. “As explained more fully below, his moving outside the Poland village limits has resulted in a forfeiture of his office as Poland councilman. Thus, he is illegally holding the office of Poland councilman.”
Gains goes on to write that although he is “extremely reluctant” to take legal action given Cossette’s short time left in office, “I believe it is necessary that the law of Ohio be respected and enforced, since it appears that Councilman Marc A. Cossette is holding the office of Poland village councilman illegally.”
If Cossette does not resign, Gains said he will file a petition “seeking a court order removing him from the office of councilman due to his no longer residing within the Poland village limits.”
Noting sections of Ohio law and a previous Ohio Supreme Court case on residency requirements, Gains requested Macejko “reassess” his position.
“If I do not receive confirmation from either you or Mr. Cossette that Mr. Cossette will immediately resign from the office he is apparently illegally holding, I will be left with no alternative but to take the appropriate action to forcibly remove him from office,” Gains wrote.
Macejko did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Macejko unsuccessfully challenged Gains in the Democratic primary for county prosecutor in March 2012.