Democratic auditor candidate disqualified from Mahoning County ballot

By David Skolnick


Mahoning County Board of Elections cut the Democratic county auditor candidate from the May primary ballot for not having enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions.

Brandon J. Kovach of Austintown was disqualified Friday for having only 45 valid signatures when he needed at least 50 to qualify for the ballot.

Kovach submitted petitions with 66 signatures but 21 were ruled invalid.

Of the invalid signatures, election officials said eight were not registered voters; four printed their names rather than sign them; four had the wrong address; one had a name that couldn’t be determined; one was a registered Republican; one only signed a first name; one had no street address; and one was from Trumbull County.

When asked if the party would field a write-in candidate in the primary, county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, who is also vice chairman of the board of elections, said, “The answer to that is honestly I don’t know. Brandon cannot run. I’ll have to see.”

The write-in candidate filing deadline is Feb. 26.

The independent filing deadline is May 7, the day before the primary.

Currently, the only candidate for county auditor on the ballot is incumbent Republican Ralph T. Meacham of Lake Milton, who’s had the position since February 2015 after winning the November 2014 election. Meacham is the only elected Republican in the county’s executive branch.

Also, the board disqualified some liquor options from the May 8 ballot.

A Monday-to-Saturday option to sell wine and mixed beverages and a Sunday option to sell wine and mixed beverages in Ellsworth Precinct 2 at Ellsworth Sunoco, 1025 Akron Canfield Road, were disqualified. The petition with both options on it had 191 signatures. It needed 148 valid signatures to get on the ballot, but only 129 were ruled valid.

The board also ruled a Sunday liquor option in Beaver Precinct 2 to sell wine and mixed beverages at Belleria Pizza Columbiana, 258 State Route 14, Suite 1, was invalid because petitions failed to list the name of the business for that specific proposal.

A Monday-to-Saturday option at the same location to sell beer, wine, mixed beverages and spirituous liquor, however, was validated by the board because the business name was included on that section of the petitions.