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Campbell issue will be on ballot

By David Skolnick

Friday, August 31, 2007

To overturn council’s
decision, those going to the polls have to vote ‘no.’



YOUNGSTOWN — A citizen initiative to stop Campbell from leasing or selling its water treatment plant is officially on the November ballot.

When it was submitted Aug. 23 to the Mahoning County Board of Elections by city Finance Director John Leskovyansky Jr., the board didn’t accept it. That’s because it was filed at 4:31 p.m., 31 minutes after the state-imposed 4 p.m. deadline to file or certify petitions for the Nov. 6 ballot.

But after consulting with the Ohio secretary of state’s office and the Mahoning County prosecutor’s office, the elections board ruled Thursday that the initiative was certified by Leskovyansky on Aug. 22.

Even though it was filed late with the board, the finance director’s certification is all that’s required to place it on the ballot, said Thomas McCabe, the elections board director.

The board’s decision drew cheers from about a dozen Campbell residents at the meeting.

“I’m glad someone is doing what’s right, and not in opposition to the law,” said Flora Hodge, one of the residents who organized the petition drive who attended Thursday’s meeting. “I’m very pleased because we followed the law and did what was right.”

Leskovyansky said the late filing wasn’t done purposely — something that Hodge and others dispute.

What happened

The petitions were given to the city administration to review in March and stayed at city hall for months. It wasn’t until Hodge filed a lawsuit that the city gave the petitions to the elections board to determine if it had enough valid signatures. Hodge then dropped the suit.

The petitions were returned by the elections board to the city for a final review, as required under state law, and then returned to the board Aug. 23.

Campbell City Council approved legislation Feb. 21 to authorize the mayor to advertise for requests for proposals to lease or sell its water treatment plant. Citizens then filed an objection halting the potential lease or sale.

To overturn council’s decision, those going to the polls have to vote “no.”

The city, in state fiscal emergency since 2004, tried to sell its water plant in 2005 to Aqua Ohio Inc., a private water distribution company, for $3 million up front and $300,000 annual payments for a decade.

A citizens referendum on the November 2006 ballot rejected that deal.

Youngstown wants to buy the plant.

2 disqualified

Also Thursday, the elections board disqualified two candidates on the November ballot for failing to have enough valid signatures on their nominating petitions.

David L. Engler, a former county commissioner who was seeking re-election to the county educational service center board, needed 50 valid signatures to stay on the ballot. He turned in petitions with 58 signatures, but only 49 were valid.

Also, Tiffany A. Ross, who filed to run for a New Middletown Village Council candidate, needed 10 valid signatures to get on the ballot. She turned in a petition with 10 signatures and only seven were valid.

The board also disqualified the following liquor options because of a lack of signatures: Nicolinni’s Ristorante in Austintown, the Stockyard Market Restaurant in Canfield, and the M&M Wine Cellar in Poland Township.