Wednesday, April 6, 2016
By David Skolnick
Disqualified as a Mahoning County sheriff candidate for not having enough valid signatures, former Youngstown Police Chief Jimmy Hughes said he will review his nominating petitions in an effort to get on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
The board of elections voted 4-0 Tuesday to not certify Hughes as an independent candidate for sheriff.
Hughes filed petitions with 1,028 signatures, but only 621 were determined to be valid by the board. He needed 663 valid signatures to be an independent candidate.
Of the 407 signatures ruled invalid by the board, 158 listed the incorrect address, 123 were not registered to vote, 73 had signatures that didn’t match what’s on their voter-registration forms – including 71 who printed their names – and 32 had “illegible signatures,” said board Director Joyce Kale-Pesta.
The other signatures disqualified including six who didn’t list an address, four who signed Hughes’ petitions twice, five who live outside of the county, one that Hughes crossed out because, he said, the person lives in Trumbull County, and the board disqualified a nominating petition that had five signatures but the former chief wrote four on the form’s circulator statement.
Hughes, who lost the 2012 Democratic primary for sheriff, acknowledged that a disqualification rate of 40 percent “is a lot.” He said he obtained many of the signatures at the Four Seasons Flea Market on McCartney Road in Youngstown.
“I was out there in bad weather, and people were signing,” he said.
Hughes needs to get the board to certify 42 of the invalid signatures to get on the ballot.
He said he’ll focus on the signatures the board tossed out for either printing their names or those ruled illegible.
“If people printed and said it’s their signature, then it’s their signature,” he said. “I don’t understand how you can disqualify people who sign or print their names. My signature is not the same as it was years ago.”
The board has validated printed signatures or ones signed differently than on their voter registration forms if a candidate either gets affidavits from them or people come to the board to verify they signed a petition.
“We triple checked signatures that don’t match or had illegible signatures,” Kale-Pesta said. “He has a right to protest. He can come in and see them.”
As for printing names, Kale-Pesta said, “The law is clear on printed signatures not being valid if they don’t match the ones on file. However, the board in the past has permitted it.”
In the 2012 Democratic primary for sheriff, Jerry Greene easily won with 55.5 percent of the vote. Hughes finished second with 24.6 percent and Brian Goodin finished last with 19.9 percent. Greene ran unopposed in the 2012 general election.
Greene is currently the only candidate running for sheriff.
Whether Hughes is “on the ballot or off, I’m sure the board of elections made the right decision,” Greene said. “I’m confident they followed the law. I don’t blame Jimmy Hughes for wanting this job. It’s a great job.”
Also, the board certified the independent candidacy of Andrea Mahone for the Ohio House 58th District race. She’ll face incumbent Democrat Michele Lepore-Hagan and Republican Corrine L. Sanderson.
The board also counted 877 provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots Tuesday for the primary election. The additional ballots didn’t change the outcome of any election.
Contributor: Sarah Lehr, staff writer