A very interesting development in the fight by George T. Maier to get the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) to say that he is qualified under the criteria listed in Ohio Revised Code Section 311.01 to be Stark County sheriff.
Though he will not have an official role unless and until the two Republican members (Cline and Braden) and two Democratic members (Ferruccio and St. John) of the BOE "deadlock" on the question of whether or not Maier is qualified.
Since Maier's counterpart Larry Dordea was not challenged by a Stark County Republican elector, the BOE determined today that he is qualified under 311.01.
It occurred to the SCPR that perhaps Secretary Husted may have a role in the local dispute even if the decision process does not involve a tie vote between the GOP and Dem board members.
What role might that be?
Perhaps Husted could help avert yet another Maier related lawsuit by taking a stand on a issue raised by Democratic protester Cynthia Balas-Bratton as to whether not Democratic board member Deametrious St. John has publicly biased himself in pro-George-Maier statements to Stark County media so as to have rendered himself incapable of rendering a decision based on the merits of the evidence presented by Balas-Bratton and Maier and not on his obvious pre-hearing expressions of his belief that Maier is qualified.
The SCPR put the question to former Cuyahoga Falls mayor Don Robart of some 28 years. Robart is to be honored, ironically enough this Friday (the day the BOE is set to hear the Bala-Bratton protest), for his many years service to Cuyahoga Falls as an elected official. He was defeated by a Democratic challenger for reelection in November, 2012.
Robart has apparently only been on the job and Secretary Husted's man in Northeast Ohio a very short period of time.
An area news report did not as of February 6th have him as having been appointed by Husted.
Here is the Robart interview.
The SCPR asked Balas-Bratton attorney Craig Conley what role, if any, he thought Secretary Husted might play in resolving his client's dissatisfaction with having St. John participate in the BOE's ultimate decision.
Apparently, the SCPR question struck a cord with Conley inasmuch as he fired off a letter to Husted asking him to remove St. John, to wit:
Craig T Conley Co. LP A.ATTORNEY AND COUNSELOR AT LAW
February 17, 2014
Hon. Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State
180 East Broad Street, 16th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Dear Mr. Husted:
I represent Cynthia Balas-Bratton, a duly qualified Democratic electorate in Stark County who, on February 11, 2014, timely filed an O.R.C. 3513.05 Protest against the candidacy of George T. Maier for the public office of Stark County Sheriff in the May 6, 2014 Democratic Party primary election. (A true file-stamped copy of that Protest is attached to the enclosed Agenda, as referred to hereinbelow.)
On February 12 and 13, 2014, on behalf cf my client, I wrote to the Stark County Board of Elections and requested that Beard Member Deametrious Augustus St. John abstain from voting on the aforesaid Protest issue and from any participation whatsoever in the Board's attendant hearing deliberations. (True copies of that correspondence, which I believe is self-explanatory, is enclosed herewith, as is a full "hard copy" of the relevant news article in The Repository.)
Mr. St. John, who had been provided through the Board copies of my aforesaid correspondence, has (through private counsel) inexplicably refused to recuse himself from the subject Protest and, in fact, today participated in the Board's meeting, a portion of which directly involved that same Protest. (A true partial copy of the relevant portions of the Board's February 17, 2014 Agenda is enclosed.)
Specifically, as to that Protest, Mr. St. John participated in the Board's vote (which was unanimous) to set the time and date of the
Protest hearing for this coming Friday, February 21, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce's office; to hire a Court Reporter to transcribe the Protest hearing proceedings; and to address (and inexplicably deny in large part) my client's request for issuance of subpoenas, (Reference, respectively, Agenda items nos. 5, 6 and 7.)
In short, my client respectfully requests you take immediate action under O.R.C. 3501.16 to "summarily remove or suspend" Mr. St. John, -whose recusal refusal and attendant continued participation in the subject Protest clearly serves to deny my client her due process right to a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal and otherwise evinces a clear violation of his O.R.C. 3501.08 Oath of office. (See also, inter alia, O.R.C. 3501.05(A) and (M).)
Please immediately advise, noting that time is obviously of the essence here.
Craig T. Conley
cc: Cynthia Balas-Bratton (w/o encs.)
Stark County Beard of Elections (w/o encs.) Stark County Prosecuting Attorney (w/o encs.)
Accordingly, Conley tells The Report that he will delay his planned "Writ of Prohibition" he planned to file in the 5th District Court of Appeal (based in Canton) on Tuesday to later this week in order to provide Husted with the time he needs to make a timely response to Conley.
Robart probably cannot believe it that he is just days into his new job with the Ohio secretary of state and he finds himself inserted into perhaps Stark County's biggest political controversy ever.
Husted himself likely is going to be dismayed by Conley's initiative.
Because Conley throwing the matter into his lap, really complicates things for him.
His opponent this time around is Democratic Cleveland area state senator Nina Turner who was recently endorsed by the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC), which she is a member of.
St. John (according to his Tweeter page) is chairman of the Stark County Black Caucus.
The OLBC was in Canton on September 26th promoting Senator Turner's candidacy. Apparently, St. John, in his capacity SCBC (Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Chapter) chair, introduced a Cincinnati area OLBC member.
If he removes St. John, is he going to be open to the charge of "political payback?"
Or, on the other hand, if he leaves St. John in place, is he going to antagonize Stark County Republicans and other Stark Countians who think that who his November opponent is and St. John's political ties to her has nothing whatsoever to do with the decision before him?
Husted has to be beside himself with his new found dilemma, no?