MAHONING COUNTY Protests seek removal of trustee candidates



The elections board will meet next week.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A supporter of an Austintown trustee candidate filed protests with the Mahoning County Board of Elections seeking to have two other trustee candidates disqualified.
Judi Viets, a supporter of candidate Lisa Oles, filed protests against candidates Donna J. Buzulencia and Linda Marie Roca asking the elections board to have the two kicked off the Nov. 4 ballot.
If the board opts to remove Buzulencia and Roca, there would be three candidates vying for the four-year trustee seat: incumbent Rich Edwards, Oles and Samuel Swoger III. Edwards beat Oles by less than 100 votes in 2001.
The elections board disqualified Chris Carver as a candidate last week because he fell two valid signatures short on his nominating petition.
In her protest, Viets contends that the signature of Joseph Brooks of Brockton Drive on Buzulencia's petition was not signed by Brooks, and his address is also incorrectly listed. Brooks could not be reached to comment.
The general rule is the person circulating the nominating petition must knowingly witness and allow a signer to sign someone else's name for the candidate to be disqualified, said Michael Sciortino, Mahoning elections board director. If it can't be proved that it was done on purpose, then just that signature is eliminated, he said.
Without Brooks' signature, Buzulencia would still have enough signatures on her nominating petition to remain on the ballot, Sciortino said.
The Brooks signature on the petition doesn't match his signature on file at the elections board, and Brooks' address is wrong on Buzulencia's petition, Sciortino said.
Signature complaint
The protest filed by Viets against Roca is over the printed signature of Ashley Jenkins of Huntmere Avenue. Those signing nominating petitions are supposed to use their signature.
"But there are pretty different interpretations as to what constitutes a signature," Sciortino said.
With Jenkins, Roca has 25 signatures -- the minimum amount to get on the ballot -- on her petitions, Sciortino said. If Jenkins' signature isn't allowed by the board, Roca would be disqualified for a lack of valid signatures.
The other point of contention with Roca is the circulator of three of her four nominating petitions. Eric Harris Sr. -- a township assistant zoning inspector -- signed his name and wrote his name and address on lines that had previously been filled in and then removed with correction fluid.
"There needs to be proof that it was done after signatures were collected for there to be an issue," Sciortino said.
Other locations
Also, Lisa M. Reardon, a Poland township clerk candidate, filed a protest over the eligibility of Catherine Stacy, another candidate. Stacy was forced to resign as township clerk in February after the Ohio Ethics Commission and the county prosecutor ruled it was improper for her to hold that job and be the police department's secretary. She's filed a lawsuit to get her clerk's job back.
The elections board will meet either Sept. 11 or 12 to consider the protests as well as hear from candidates it removed last week from the ballot for a variety of reasons including a lack of valid signatures and failing to date petitions.
Those seeking reinstatement to the Nov. 4 ballot are:
UOliver Weaver and James Boyd, Youngstown school board candidates.
ULori Yanocos-Clark, a Canfield Township trustee candidate.
UPatricia Neely and Michael Barry, Campbell school board candidates.
UYoungstown Sports Grille in Boardman, seeking a liquor option.
UMichael Sabatine, a Sebring school board candidate.
UBerlin Trustee James Brown.
skolnick@vindy.com