BOE wants opinion on Ironton mayor’s race

Published 11:00 am Thursday, July 30, 2015

With possibly seven candidates on the ballot this November vying to become the next mayor of Ironton, a single election may not be enough to choose the winner.

According to the Ironton charter, a candidate must get 40 percent of the vote to become mayor.

If that doesn’t happen, the charter states there must be a runoff election two weeks after the Nov. 3 race or on Nov. 17.

But that could possibly conflict with the Ohio Revised Code if a runoff election is deemed a special election; that’s why the county board of elections wants an opinion from the prosecutor’s office on which law prevails.

“There are several issues,” BOE member and Ironton attorney Mark McCown said. “The new budget bill amended the statute regarding when special elections can be held. That prompted (seeking the opinion).”

The request for the opinion states that it is the BOE’s opinion that a run-off election is a special election.

“Pursuant to RC 3515.01 special elections that are not primary elections may only be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May, August or November,” states the request made by McCown and fellow board member and Ironton attorney, Randall Lambert.

That would mean the date for the runoff would be the same as the original election, if the ORC supplants the city charter.

“If home rule permits it, there are some logistical problems,” McCown said. “If home rule doesn’t apply, if we cannot have the election, do we declare a winner or does it get thrown over to the next special election.”

The board is also concerned that the earliest it can begin the official canvas to certify election results would be Nov. 14 or three days before the runoff would be.

“A third place winner could cause a recount after the special election,” McCown said. “Then you have another election. Our job as a board is to know what we are supposed to do if and when those problems occur.”

Right now those who could possibly be on the ballot are Katrina Keith, benefits specialist for the city of Ironton; former Ironton Mayor Jim Tordiff; former Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary; David Bush, Donald Roberts, Ironton building and code enforcement officer John David Willis and former deputy director of STAR Community Justice Center Joshua Saunders.

Because it concerns election law, county prosecuting attorney Brigham Anderson said he will send the request onto the attorney general for that office’s opinion.

“There is a question as to the potential problem of a runoff on the mayor’s race and the discrepancy between local laws and state laws,” Anderson said. “We believe an attorney general’s opinion is appropriate due to the content of the legal opinion.”

The request to the attorney general will be made this week.