TIFFIN - Independent sheriff's candidate Dennis Brady was removed from the November ballot yesterday when the Seneca County Board of Elections ruled that he lacked the qualifications to run for the job.
The board's 4-0 vote left Sheriff Tom Steyer, a Republican, as the only candidate on the ballot, virtually assuring his re-election.
Afterward, the sheriff smiled and praised the board's action, telling chairman Wayne Hoover, "Thanks for making this decision today."
Sheriff Steyer filed a protest of Mr. Brady's qualifications last month, arguing that the former sheriff's department captain had not served as a full-time peace officer in the four years leading up to the March 1 filing deadline, a requirement of state law.
At a hearing last week, Mr. Brady told the board he had served as a full-time peace officer from September, 1999, until March 16, 2000, when he was employed by the sheriff's department as a security guard at the Seneca County Courthouse. Before that, he was jail administrator for the department.
Mr. Brady acknowledged that his commission as a sheriff's deputy had been canceled Sept. 3, 1999, by then-Sheriff H. Weldin Neff but said he had received a commission as a special deputy from Lucas County around the same time. His attorney, Dean Henry, argued that the Lucas County commission, plus his duty as an armed security officer, qualified Mr. Brady as a peace officer.
The board continued last week's hearing until yesterday and asked Mr. Brady to produce written proof of his commission with Lucas County, including the date it took effect.
Shortly before yesterday's hearing, Mr. Henry gave elections officials a copy of Mr. Brady's certification, which showed that his commission was issued Oct. 10, 2000, said Wayne Hoover, chairman of the board.
Neither Mr. Brady nor his attorney attended yesterday's meeting. They could not be reached for comment afterward.
Sheriff Steyer said the board's decision confirmed what he had believed all along about Mr. Brady's qualifications.
"I think it's quite obvious, if you look at the law, he does not
meet the definition of a peace officer," the sheriff said.
Board members said they didn't want to oust Mr. Brady from the ballot but felt they had no choice because he had no deputy's commission while working in the courthouse.
"I think it's extremely unfortunate that we have this kind of situation," member Dale Stacy said as he moved for a vote to disqualify Mr. Brady. "I hate to make that kind of a motion, but that's the way the facts look to me."
Afterward, Mr. Hoover said it was difficult for him and his fellow board members to decipher the section of Ohio Revised Code on candidate qualifications.
"It's a nebulous law that four laypeople really shouldn't be interpreting," he said. "There needs to be clarification of this thing so it's determined whether a candidate has the qualifications before it gets to the board of elections."