Typically, on days following the filing deadline for candidates to file their petitions to run for office, the media dutifully reports on who filed for what.
Later on, as the Board of Elections scrutinizes the petitions filed, it either certifies or refuses to certify that a candidate has "qualified" by the validity of the number required and registration of the signed-on petitioners on the petitions.
If that were the only test on George T. Maier qualifying to run for Stark County sheriff, there is no doubt he would be qualified to be on the Stark County ballot come November 6, 2014 to run for the "unexpired term" of Mike McDonald (elected November, 2012).
As we all regrettably know, Mike was not able to take office on January 7, 2013 because of an illness which claimed his life on February 22, 2013.
Consequently, the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDP-CC) was charged with replacing McDonald with an appointee.
They appointed former state highway patrolman George T. Maier on Febuary 5, 2013. However, Maier had moved on to administrative duties within policing and thereby was thought by some to have lost his qualification under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 311.01 to be sheriff.
And those "some," namely, interim Sheriff Tim Swanson and Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero turned out to be correct.
On November 6, 2013, the Ohio Supreme Court in Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto filed on February 12, 2013, found that Maier did not qualify as of February 5th and accordingly "ousted" him from office.
The Dems were ordered to re-institute the appointment process and did so on December 11, 2013 and guess who they picked a second time?
You've got it: George T. Maier.
Well, the short of it is that there remain some Stark Countians who continue to believe that George T. Maier is unqualified under the provisions of ORC 311.01.
Hence, one such person, namely; Cynthia Balas-Bratton (a Stark County Democratic Party precinct committee person) has joined the likes of Swanson and Ferrero to object to Maier being Stark County sheriff, appointed or elected.
She has retained local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley to file a protest of Maier's petition filed a few weeks ago with the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) as to their validity - not on the number and the valid registrations of the signers - (which, of course, the BOE has to rule on - protested or not) but on the ORC 311.01 qualifications on which there are reports that the BOE plans on ignoring.
Well, you can put those plans to rest.
Feburary 5th certainly is a significant date on the life of George T. Maier.
On February 5th, 2013 he likely was jubilant in receiving the SCDP-CC appointment as sheriff.
On February 5th, 2014 he likely was disconsulate on learning about the receipt by the Stark BOE of the following letter:
February 5, 2014
TO: Stark County Board of Elections
FROM: CRAIG T. CONLEY
RE: GEORGE TO MAIER
I represent Cynthia Balas-Bratton, a Stark County Democratic electorate, who will be filing with your Board an O.R.C. 3513.05 prtest against the proposed candidacy of Democrat George T. Maier. (See. e.g., the Ohio Supreme Court Opinion in Wellington v. Mahoning County Board of Elections, 117 Ohio St. 3d 143, 2008-Ohio-554).
In the meantime, I have been informed by the proverbial "very reliable source" that your Board does not consider it to be its responsibility to determine whether or not Mr. Maier is statutorily qualified to be on the Democratic primary ballot for the public office of Stark County Sheriff.
If indeed that is your Board's position, I respectfully suggest you should forthwith reconsider same.
In that regard, I call your attention to, inter alia, the Ohio Supreme Court's Opinion in State ex rel. Shumate v. Portage County Board of Elections (1992},64 Ohio St.3d 12, 14, wherein the Court held that "R.C. 3501.11 requires boards cf election to review, examine and certify the sufficiency of petitions and nominating papers". (emphasis supplied)In the end, the SCPR thinks that Maier will not qualify to stand for election and likely result in Republican Larry Dodea becoming the next sheriff of Stark County.
Although presently unaware of how the Stark County Court of Common Pleas Administrative Judge may have opined on the instant issue, it is noteworthy that the Shumate Court went on to held (at 17) " . . . that the administrative judges' [qualifications] certifications were gratuitous, and respondent [board of elections] was not justified in relying or. those certifications when presented with a protest but was required to make its own determinations about qualifications, as in other cases.” (emphasis supplied)
In short, it is respectfully suggested that your Board, as a matter of law, clearly has the affirmative duty to determine whether or not Mr. Maier is statutorily qualified to be on the Democratic primary ballot as a candidate for the public office of Stark County Sheriff; and, upon the filing of my client''s aforesaid protest (if not before), I reasonably presume you will, consistent with that (sworn) duty, agree and will find, upon hearing, that Mr. Maier is not so-qualified. (See, e.g., the Ohio Supreme Court's November 6, 2013 Opinion in The State ex rel. Swanson v. Maier, 137 Ohio St.3d 400, 2013-Ohio-4767.)
Not all that many years ago Stark's organized Democrats have a virtual stranglehold on countywide elections.
But with the onset (ironically, what Conley has termed as being) Zeiglergate on or about April 1, 2009, the Dems has lost the treasurer's office, the auditor's offices and now? the sheriff's office.
The Democrats have held that office most recently since 1985 after (in 1981) Republican Robert Berens pulled a stunning upset in defeating Democrat George Papadopulos in the 1980 election.
Berens was not a policeman by background (the SCPR's recollection is that he was an insurance man) and many believed (including most present-day Stark County Republican leaders the SCPR converses with) that he was a disaster as sheriff which lead to guess what?
The passage of ORC 311.01.
Which George Maier now says gets in his way in being Stark County sheriff "on a 'mere' technicality."
It is more than touch ironic that all of sudden the application of the "rule of law" is not that important to the Stark County Democratic Party leadership in that the law is being "a mere technicality."
Apparently to them, the importance of "the rule of law" all depends on whose Ox is being gored?