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Vacant elected positions to be filled

Appointments will have to be made to fill several elected positions that were on the ballot but didn’t draw candidates.

“There are usually some races, particularly in smaller communities, that don’t have any or enough people file petitions to run,” said Tom McCabe, director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections. “We also had several candidates not certified because of issues with their nominating petitions and didn’t have people file as write-ins.”

The 11 positions that were on the Nov. 7 ballot without candidates are all nonpartisan seats on the councils of four villages as well as three boards of education and the fiscal officer in Smith.

No one filed for the two vacant seats on the village councils in New Middletown and Washingtonville. One person filed for one of the two seats open on the Beloit village council in the Nov. 7 election and then withdrew.

For New Middletown, not having candidates file for village council wasn’t out of the ordinary.

In 2021, the village had four seats open on council and only one person filed as a write-in candidate.

Under state law, vacancies on village councils are filled by the remaining members of the legislative body. If the village councils cannot come to a majority decision on who should fill the open seats within 30 days of the vacancies occurring — Jan. 1 would be the start date for these seats — then the mayor makes the appointments.

New Middletown council also will have to make a third appointment as Michele Butler Myers, a councilwoman, beat Harry P. Kale, who served for 16 years as mayor, by 16 votes.

If the three remaining New Middletown council members can’t find appointments for the three seats to the six-member legislative body within 30 days of the vacancies, Myers will make the appointments under state law.

Also, the Craig Beach village council will need to fill one seat. Two council seats were on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Incumbent Councilwoman Linda Bryant filed to run for reelection, but wasn’t certified to the ballot because she didn’t have enough valid signatures on her nominating petitions.

Incumbent Councilman Robert Andrea, who initially was not certified by the Mahoning County Board of Elections and then put on the ballot after the board accepted his appeal over a petition issue, was the only candidate to file for Craig Beach council.

No one filed as a write-in candidate.

Audrey Fox, Smith fiscal officer, filed for reelection, but the board of elections didn’t certify her candidacy because she failed to properly fill out the required circulator statement on the back page of her nominating petition.

No one else filed for the seat.

State law compels the three township trustees to find a successor for Fox — and it could be Fox who gets the appointment — within 30 days of the vacancy.

If the trustees cannot find a replacement by then, state law says “a majority of the persons designated as the committee of five on the last-filed nominating petition of the township officer (Fox in this case) whose vacancy is to be filled who are residents of the township shall appoint a person” to fill the vacancy. That committee has 10 days to fill the vacancy if the trustees fail to find someone within 30 days of the seat being open.

Should that also be unsuccessful, Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Robert N. Rusu Jr. would appoint the fiscal officer. State law doesn’t give him a time limit for the appointment.

Also, while two board of education seats were on the ballot in the Struthers, Sebring and West Branch school districts, only one candidate in each district was on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Two candidates, both incumbents, filed in Struthers, but the board of elections didn’t certify Patrick C. Bundy because he failed to fill in the required nominating section part on the front of his petition.

None of the three school districts attracted write-in candidates.

State law calls for the other members of the boards of education in those three districts to wait at least 10 days after the vacancy occurs and by majority vote appoint a person to fill the spots.

State law doesn’t address how long school boards have to fill the vacancies, but if its members are unable to do so, it goes to Rusu to appoint.

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