Wednesday, September 18, 2013


North Canton councilman-at-large is probably kicking himself down Main Street in North Canton these days.

But for being more thorough he would not have been in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas today before Judge Kristin Farmer.

As seen in the graphic above, the second page of his petition lacked his home address.

It is not as if he totally forget to provide the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) with the required address.  What he failed to do was to apply the address to the second of his two page petition.

The first page was fine.

What he neglected to do was akin to "measure twice, cut once."

As a consequence, the Stark BOE rejected the petition that did not has his address on it and ultimately his candidacy because with the rejection of the second petition he fell short of the required 25 valid North Canton voters' signatures.

So now it is up to Judge Farmer to determine whether or not the statutory and case law, as she sees it, allows her make an order requiring the BOE to place his name on November 5th ballot.

And the BOE needs to have a decision by Saturday as that is a "drop dead" date for the printing of the ballots which will soon be made available to voters.

Judge Farmer promised to have her decision ready by the end of today.

The Stark County Political Report was in Judge Farmer's courtroom yesterday to record the entire proceeding.

As the full video tape of the proceeding presented at the end of this blog shows, Cerreta's attorney in essence argued that:the statutory law of Ohio as interpreted by Ohio case law is persuasive that:
  • Cerreta was entitled to be on November's ballot because:
    • in providing his address on one of the two pages of petitions had "substantially" complied with Ohio law,
    • for the BOE to have rejected the second petition was an unlawful disregarding of applicable provisions of law and lastly
    • that the BOE in being beholden to the technicalities (i.e. having the address listed twice) is an abuse of discretion by the BOE and 
    • the law favors have free and competitive elections and Cerreta's elimination from the ballot would mean that the council-at-large race would not allow for it being a competitive election.
Stark County prosecutor Debbie Dawson arguing the BOE asked Judge Farmer to uphold the board's decision for the reasons that:
  • the law, as articulated by statutory law, clearly provides for the inclusion of a circulator's address in that the statute lays out the form (which the Stark BOE specifically adopted) for boards of election to "substantially comply with" in setting for the requirements for candidates for office to meet in circulating and the filing of petitions,
  • the address is an essential part of the petition in that its availability is a key component in conducting investigation of whether or not a fraud in collecting signatres has been perpetuated.
In essence, it appears that the court will be choosing between the strict compliance with the literal wording of statutory law versus Ohio Supreme Court case law which seems to disfavor enforcing technicalities of statutory compliance in the absence of any showing that there is an authentic concern that fraud may be a factor in a given situation.

The Cerrata matter is absolutely devoid of any fraud factor.

Of course, one never knows what a court will do but this case seems ripe for a finding that Councilman Cerreta might get away with his inattention to detail.

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