In a press release which the SCPR received within the last 30 minutes local attorney and Stark County civic activist Craig T. Conley announced that he is withdrawing as a candidate for Stark County commissioner in November's general election.
Conley said in the release:
In short, the time constraints imposed by my law practice and/or by my involvement in some new business endeavors simply does not permit me 'to do justice' to the position and give our County's citizens the time and attention to task they deserve from each and every Commissioner.The Report regrets that Conley sees the necessity to withdraw. Conley has a long track record of taking on causes on a "for the civic good basis" (e.g. the repeal of an imposed 0.5% county sales tax by former Commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Vignos instituted in December, 2008; repealed in November, 2009). In the judgment of the SCPR, he is one of Stark County's foremost and most effective civic activist.
He was instrumental also in pushing the Stark County prosecutor's office to step up the activity level and timetable in recouping on bonds/insurance et cetera for the county's losses of at least $2.46 million (some think $2.96 million) from the theft of taxpayer funds from the Stark County treasurer's office by former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci.
A question does arise as to whether or not the withdrawal comes too late for the Stark County Republican Party either by its county central committee or its executive committee (if provided for in party rules) to select a replacement.
Ohio Revised Code Section 3513.31(C):
(C) If a person nominated in a primary election as a party candidate for election at the next general election, whose candidacy is to be submitted to the electors of a county, withdraws as that candidate ... the vacancy in the party nomination so created may be filled by the county central committee of the major political party that made the nomination at the primary election, or by the county executive committee if so authorized, if the committee’s chairperson and secretary certify the name of the person selected to fill the vacancy by the time specified in this division, at a meeting called for that purpose. The meeting shall be called by the chairperson of that committee, who shall give each member of the committee at least two days’ notice of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting. If a majority of the members of the committee are present at the meeting, a majority of those present may select a person to fill the vacancy. The chairperson and secretary of the meeting shall certify in writing and under oath to the board of that county, not later than four p.m. of the eighty-sixth day before the day of the general election, the name of the person selected to fill the vacancy. (emphasis added).The Report is told by a source that it appears that the Stark Republicans have until Monday, August 13th to certify a replacement candidate for Conley because the deadline falls on a weekend.
Even assuming they can be timely, with less than 90 days left until the election, the SCPR would be surprised if the Republicans can find someone to take Bernabei on.
He and Republican Janet Creighton are generally credited with having rebuilt trust in county government on the part of the Stark County public witness the healthy margin by which the voters passed a ballot initiative by the current board of commissioners for a 0.5% sales tax increase for a period of eight years in November, 2011.
Bernabei narrowly escaped with a win against Republican Jackson Township trustee James Walters in the election of November, 2012. The SCPR believes Walters would have won had a conservative independent candidate not been in the race.
The Report believes that Commissioner Bernabei is a much stronger candidate in this election year and should be in a position to defeat just about any Stark County Republican that might be thinking about taking on the challenge.