Republican John Navarre today took the option offered to him by his boss Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez to take an unpaid leave of absence from his job as a commercial appraiser in the auditor’s office to run against Ms. Lopez.
The decision ends a unique and politically touchy situation in which Ms. Lopez had to decide whether one of her employees could run against her and still keep his job.
Mr. Navarre, 54, of South Toledo, filed as a candidate in February, unaware that as a classified county employee he was barred by state law from participating in partisan politics.
If he gets the Republican nomination, he would face Ms. Lopez, the Democratic incumbent, in the Nov. 4 general election.
"I really didn’t research it all that well. It’s probably my mistake," he said of his lack of knowledge about the Ohio law restricting the political activity of classified state employees. "But in the end I do have the nomination, or probably will after May  and I do intend to run for auditor."
He has been on paid leave since Feb. 10 while Ms. Lopez’s staff and the Lucas County prosecutor’s office researched the legal questions.
Ms. Lopez said she based her decision on a 1985 opinion from then-Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery.
"Regardless of what happens I'm going to have an opponent. I'm prepared to defend my record as auditor with any candidate, including Mr. Navarre, but I have to protect my office and Lucas County taxpayers by not allowing employees to openly and knowingly violate Ohio law," Ms. Lopez said.
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