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Published: Friday, 8/19/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

Protest hearing set for Webb at elections office

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Toledo City Councilman Lindsay Webb will have a protest hearing next week to make the case that she should not be thrown off the Sept. 13 primary ballot, following action of the Lucas County Board of Elections Thursday.

And the elections board postponed action on allowing an unusual candidate switch aimed at restoring Sylvania Township Trustee Neal Mahoney to the ballot.

The board scheduled the hearing for 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Mark Nowak, the Lucas County Republican Party secretary, said Ms. Webb should be decertified because she missed a deadline spelled out in the city charter requiring her to accept her nomination within five days of being notified. Ms. Webb's letter accepting her nomination was received after 12 days.

Ms. Webb blasted the board of elections meeting as "disorder" and said the board had not yet restored the trust of the voters in the election process.

"This is nothing more than a technicality to prevent people of District 6 from having a choice. I intend to fight this. We have significant legal precedent on my side to support me staying on the ballot," Ms. Webb said. "Basically my candidacy is being used as a pawn to try to further an agenda to take control of the board of elections," she said.

She said the intent of the city charter has been met, which was to ascertain whether a candidate is interested in running, because she filed her own nominating petitions and has had campaign signs up since June.

Republican board member Jon Stainbrook, who has not taken an official position on whether she should be allowed to stay on the ballot, said, "The only thing in question is plain and simple -- the fact that Lindsay Webb turned her letter in 7 days late. That's all this is."

Mr. Stainbrook aimed criticism at the board's own staff, which, he said, knew that Ms. Webb had missed the deadline but did not notify superiors, which allowed her certification to the ballot. He requested an investigation.

"It appears from the preliminary investigation that two employees suppressed this information for a partisan reason. Someone is on the ballot who clearly should not be on the ballot because she clearly did not comply with the laws of the city charter," Mr. Stainbrook said.

Ron Rothenbuhler, the Lucas County Democratic chairman and the chairman of the four-person elections board, said he spoke to the two employees and was told that it has been their job to file paperwork but not to be "the police."

"There's been trouble about them making comments to candidates. I think they're caught in the middle based on what you can do and what you can't do," Mr. Rothenbuhler said. He said he wants to hear the arguments of the lawyers next week before taking a stand on Ms. Webb's right to remain on the ballot.

Ms. Webb's Republican opponent, Douglas DeCamp, said Thursday that Ms. Webb violated a clear deadline. "The rule appears to be very cut and dry. It clearly states the letter of nomination needs to be on file five days after receiving the notification," Mr. DeCamp said.

He noted that Democrats accused him in June of a technical campaign violation in a complaint that was filed with the Ohio Elections Commission. The complaint, made by Mr. Rothenbuhler, alleged that Mr. DeCamp had not declared a campaign treasurer, an oversight he said he corrected quickly.

"When it was thought I was in violation of a campaign law, she stated the rules are in place to ensure a fair election process. Now she feels it is just a mere technicality and should be overlooked because the U.S. Postal Service did not deliver her letter the exact same day," Mr. DeCamp said.

Ms. Webb's other opponent, Green Party candidate Sean Nestor, said on Wednesday that her removal from the ballot for failure to meet the city deadline would be "undemocratic" because it is obvious that she intends to run and that she has community support for running.

The board also tabled a vote on whether to allow Mr. Mahoney back on the ballot for Sylvania Township trustee as the substitute for another candidate who has withdrawn. Mr. Mahoney was decertified in July because he had withdrawn his candidacy and refiled. A new ruling from the Ohio Secretary of State prohibited candidates from refiling for the same office in the same election.

Sylvania Township resident Jack Jolley filed as a candidate last week and then withdrew, and his campaign committee submitted Mr. Mahoney's name in his place. Board lawyer John Borell, assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said he is waiting for guidance from the Ohio Secretary of State's office to know whether a candidate who has not yet been certified -- Mr. Jolley -- can withdraw and be replaced by a candidate who has already been disqualified.

Contract Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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