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Published: Friday, 6/13/2003

First-term councilman trips over ballot issue

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

LIMA, Ohio - First-term city Councilman Derry Glenn is fighting for a second council term, but he may have to do it without his name on the November ballot.

The controversy, brewing since January, has enough subplots to be a summer movie blockbuster. It's made the Ward 6 council race one of the city's most intriguing.

Mr. Glenn, 40, a correctional program specialist for the soon-to-close Lima Correctional Institution, is running as a write-in candidate. The Allen County Board of Elections rejected his campaign petitions this year because of a “technicality,” said Keith Cunningham, elections board director.

Mr. Glenn failed to fill in the date of the election and the specific race he entered.

Mr. Glenn said he thought he was given a second chance to turn in petitions, but those were denied. His appeal of the board's decision to the state Supreme Court was dismissed May 16, and he has since filed a motion for the court to reconsider.

He also appealed to Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's office, but has not received a response.

Mr. Glenn has a history of turning in incomplete or incorrect petitions and should have known better, Mr. Cunningham said.

The date and election information were not filled in on the four petitions he submitted.

“That information lets people know what they are signing, and we handle every election in the county so it keeps us from making mistakes,” Mr. Cunningham said.

Mr. Glenn said he thinks the rejection had more to do with him personally than the technicality. His demands during the past four years for city officials to pay more attention to a neglected Ward 6 on the city's south side, which is mostly African-American, have made him a target of slights, mistreatment, and an “underground effort” to get him booted off council, he said.

“This has to do with my style,” Mr. Glenn said. “I fight for my ward and get them to do things here that they do in other wards.

“I'm not one of the good ol' boys, so they're trying to get me out of office, and this is how they're trying to do it,” he said.

“They” are Mr. Cunningham and unknown opponents who have been trying to find a candidate to run against him in Ward 6, Mr. Glenn said.

Mr. Cunningham called the accusations nonsense. He said there'd be no problem if Mr. Glenn filled out his petitions correctly.

“I'm nearly 51 years old, and I've been in politics since 1987,” Mr. Cunningham said. “I've served 12 years on Lima City Council and 10 as council president, and I've been [at the Board of Elections] for the past 51/2 years. Why would I care if Derry Glenn was on City Council or not?”

The two have a political history together. Mr. Cunningham defeated Mr. Glenn for a council seat years ago. He and Mr. Glenn lost to incumbent Mayor Dave Berger in the 1998 race.

When the petition-filing controversy came to light in January, Mr. Glenn was unopposed. After he filed as a write-in candidate in March, another candidate emerged - political newcomer Anthony Woodley.

But questions arose about Mr. Woodley's residence. He had not lived in the ward long enough - the required six-month minimum - to run for election in the May primary, Mr. Cunningham said. But, because there were only two candidates for the council seat, there wasn't a primary election.

The decision on whether Mr. Woodley legally can run for the Nov. 4 election will fall to the city and Law Director Tony Geiger.

“If he really had it in his heart to run, he would have taken out petitions like everyone else,” Mr. Glenn said. “He hasn't lived in the ward or known the people, but he has come out of the blue to run.”

Neither Mr. Woodley nor Mr. Geiger could be reached for comment yesterday.

The election flap marked a tumultuous first term for Mr. Glenn.

A news conference he called in February ended in a shouting match in front of the media.

Two months ago, vandals had spray-painted swastikas throughout his ward, including on his parents' car. His wife, Judie, was assaulted, he said.

Lima police Lt. Mike Keith said no arrests have been made in the April 23 spray-painting incident. Police found swastikas spray-painted at St. John's Catholic Church and on a house near the church, both in Mr. Glenn's ward.

The next day, someone reported that “KKK” was spray-painted at Hillside Baptist Church in the ward.

Once Lima Correctional closes, Mr. Glenn will be out of a job, but he hopes to transfer to another prison. He said he will continue to live in Lima.

A graduate of Lima Central Catholic High School, he has a degree in economics from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.



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