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Frenchko seeks court costs from Polivka

Trumbull County Commissioner Niki Frenchko is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to have Dan Polivka, who lost to her last year and then unsuccessfully sued to get her removed from office, and his attorneys pay her $1,375 legal bill in the case.

Frenchko’s claim also seeks other expenses she incurred, though the court filing doesn’t disclose what those were.

“This conduct by Polivka and his attorneys (Richard Brunner and Patrick Quinn) was clearly frivolous and warrants the imposition of sanctions” under Supreme Court rules, Joseph P. Szeman, Frenchko’s attorney, wrote in a filing with the court. “Essentially, the law never mattered to Polivka, Mr. Brunner or Mr. Quinn because the complaint was not filed for any legitimate reason; rather it was the worst form of politics.”

Szeman added: “As this court is aware, this is the not the first attempt by attorneys Brunner and Quinn to challenge the results of the Trumbull County election. After previous failed challenges, the action was filed to create headlines and harass Ms. Frenchko. The complete lack of any factual or legal foundation for having brought this suit never mattered to them.”

The court ruled Sept. 22 in favor of Frenchko’s motion to dismiss the suit filed by former commissioner Polivka. In the Nov. 3, 2020, election, Frenchko, a Republican, beat Polivka, the incumbent and Trumbull County Democratic Party chairman, 52.33 percent to 47.67 percent.

Polivka has claimed Frenchko doesn’t live in Trumbull County because her daughter was attending school in Mentor, Lake County, during the election.

The courts and the county board of elections sided with Frenchko several times regarding her residency before and after the election.

In the last case, Polivka wanted the court to remove Frenchko and declare him the winner.

In his filing for attorney fees, Szeman wrote that Polivka “never had a good faith claim or reasonable grounds to claim that he was ‘entitled to office,’ and therefore should have known he could never establish standing to bring the within action.”

If Frenchko was ruled ineligible, Szeman wrote, the county Republican central committee would have appointed her successor.

Polivka has insisted he lost the case because of a “poor” decision by the board of elections early in the campaign about Frenchko’s residency while she said the challenges were “dirty politics.”

Election law permits people to have multiple addresses but requires one for voting or running for office. It also allows candidates to have a residence they intend to return to as their voting address.

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