Mahoning Co. elections board delays decision on write-ins



YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County Board of Elections canceled a Monday meeting to determine whether eight former independent candidates for Youngstown City Council seats can file as write-ins for those jobs.

After the eight were decertified as candidates June 14 by the elections board, Brian Green, election counsel for the secretary of state, told The Vindicator that state law prohibited them from running as write-in candidates.

The secretary of state is expected to issue a written opinion confirming Green’s statements, said Thomas McCabe, Mahoning elections director. The board will wait until then before making a decision as to their eligibility as write-in candidates, McCabe said.

But Jeff Ortega, a secretary of state spokesman, said the office has no plans to issue a written opinion on the subject.

Sept. 5 is the deadline to file as write-in candidates for the Nov. 6 general election.

“There’s no rush to do this,” McCabe said.

Advisory opinion

The eight independents were taken off the ballot because of a recent secretary of state advisory opinion. The opinion, issued after the independent candidate filing deadline, states those running as independents can’t keep that status if they then vote in a party primary election or serve on a party’s central or executive committees.

Of the eight, seven voted in the May 8 primary, one day after the independent filing deadline. One of those seven as well as Tyrone Peakes of the 5th Ward serve on party central committees.

State law forbids those who file declarations of candidacy or submit nominating petitions for partisan state, county and municipal elections to then seek the same office as a write-in after being ruled ineligible, Green said.

One of those former candidates, Maggy Lorenzi of the 6th Ward, plans to challenge the decision.

“There are avenues to contest this, and one of those avenues is the courts,” she said.

Trumbull County has seven independent candidates and Columbiana County has two independent candidates who voted in the May 8 primary. Election boards in those counties haven’t yet made decisions on the eligibility of those candidates.