Invalid signatures leave 2 disqualified

A Struthers council race got closer with a recount set for next week.



YOUNGSTOWN — Two independent candidates for Youngstown City Council seats won’t be on the ballot, and Mahoning County Board of Elections officials are questioning the eligibility of a third.

The elections board voted Tuesday to disqualify Steven Robert Hinz and Cecil Monroe as candidates for the 3rd and 4th Wards, respectively, on the November general election ballot.

Hinz failed to sign one of the nominating petition forms he circulated, said Joyce Kale-Pesta, deputy elections director. That meant all signatures on that form are invalid under state law, she said. Without that sheet, Hinz only had 12 valid signatures, she said.

An independent Youngstown council candidate needs 25 valid signatures to be on the November ballot, Kale-Pesta said.

As for Monroe, he submitted petitions with 27 signatures, but the board determined only 24 were valid, Kale-Pesta said.

With Monroe gone, Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti, D-4th, won’t have a general election opponent. She was the only incumbent council member seeking re-election without a primary challenger.

The 3rd Ward race now pits Jamael Tito Brown, who won the Democratic primary, against Vincent Thomas, an independent candidate.

Eligibility concerns

The elections board also wants to question Frank Bellamy, a 1st Ward independent candidate, about his eligibility, said Thomas McCabe, the elections board director.

The board recently mailed a letter to Bellamy at his Breaden Street house with an Ohio Ethics Commission disclosure form, and it was returned stamped “vacant house” by the postal service, McCabe said.

An elections employee drove to the house and said it “looked vacant,” according to McCabe. When The Vindicator checked the house Tuesday, the electricity was on, the grass was mowed, numerous vehicle tires were stacked in the side yard and Bellamy’s wife, Michelle, was home.

The county auditor’s Web site lists Devyn Bellamy as the house’s owner.

A second letter is being mailed to Frank Bellamy at the Breaden Street address asking him to come to an elections board meeting next Tuesday to prove he lives at that home, McCabe said. If he fails to prove his residency, Bellamy could be disqualified as a candidate, McCabe said.

Frank Bellamy couldn’t be reached Tuesday to comment.

Struthers recount

Also Tuesday, the elections board opened 11 provisional ballots in the Struthers City Council 4th Ward Democratic primary. Provisional ballots are cast by people who move into a precinct or fail to change their voter registration location within 30 days of an election.

Elections boards have to determine the eligibility of provisional voters before their votes can be counted.

Robert D. Carcelli III was beating Councilman Paul J. Garchar Jr. 542-539 when ballots were counted May 8, the date of the Democratic primary. Of the 11 provisional votes, 10 were determined by the elections board to be valid. Garchar received 6 votes to 4 for Carcelli.

That means Carcelli is winning by 1 vote, 546-545.

Next Tuesday, the board will hand-count the 10 provisional votes as well as 226 absentee ballots as part of an automatic recount, Kale-Pesta said. The board will also recount votes cast on touch-screen machines at the polls.