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Published: Tuesday, 9/16/2008

Sylvania merger question to be on ballot

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Voters in Sylvania and Sylvania Township will have their chance to vote on a merger commission Nov. 4, the Lucas County Board of Elections decided unanimously yesterday.

The board upheld the validity of a ballot issue that would authorize the creation of a commission to study merging the city of Sylvania with the township.

The board denied protests from the township trustees and two township residents, each of whom had charged separately that a pending residency change for a proposed commissioner invalidated the ballot issue.

On Aug. 28, elections officials certified petitions signed by 2,498 residents to place the issue on the general election ballot.

But protesters charged that the acceptance of the annexation of Country Walk Commons into the city Sept. 3 rendered the petitions defective.

One of the five candidates chosen to represent the township Sam Steinman was a resident of the neighborhood. The annexation will become official Oct. 3, making Mr. Steinman a city resident.

Elections board member Rita Clark said state law did not explicitly address the situation.

We had to go according to what we had already previously certified, she said.

Mr. Steinman s name will appear on the ballot in Sylvania Township alongside four other township candidates. Elections officials said it was not within their power to determine when or how he would be replaced.

Gary Sommer, a city commissioner candidate, said the law indicates township trustees should appoint a replacement should a commissioner candidate die or is legally disabled from serving.

The question now for the community is not about Mr. Steinman, Mr. Sommer said. It s do you want to have a committee to study a merger.

He added that he was glad the volunteer group One Sylvania would not have to begin their petition drive again. The group had spent one year gathering signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters in the city and 10 percent of the registered voters in the township.

A previous petition drive led by the group failed when a number of signatures were invalidated last year by the elections board.

But township Trustee Pam Hanley did not rule out further legal action to prevent the issue from appearing on the ballot.

The leadership of One Sylvania misrepresented to Sylvania Township unincorporated residents the representation, the commissioner representation, she said.

Residents of the County Walk Commons condominium complex began circulating a petition for annexation in November, 2007. One Sylvania members said they began circulating the merger commission petition, with Mr. Steinman s name, in September, 2007.

One Sylvania volunteer and Sylvania City Councilman Doug Haynam said the group considered replacing Mr. Steinman but acted on legal advice in persisting with the original list of candidates.

Other formal protests were filed by township residents Dennis Krohn and James T. Adams.

Contact Angie Schmitt at:aschmitt@theblade.comor 419-724-6104.



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