Mayor’s lawsuit dismissed

Published 6:39 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Ohio Supreme Court has dismissed Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith’s request for a writ of prohibition against the Lawrence County Board of Elections.

The court’s decision came down late Wednesday afternoon.

Keith had filed suit with the Ohio Supreme Court on Oct. 28 against the members of the Lawrence County Board of Election after the board took no action on Oct. 22 as to whether her opponent in the Nov. 5 election, Sam Cramblit II, should be allowed to run for office. She alleged that he did not meet the city charter requirements of being a resident of Ironton for the last five years.

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After the board took no action because her protest was “untimely,” Keith filed the suit for writ of prohibition asking that Cramblit’s name be removed from the ballot and the board of election not to count any votes cast for him in the 2019 general election.

In the analysis of its ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court said that for Keith to be entitled to a writ of prohibition, she had to prove that the Lawrence County Board of Elections exercised quasi-judicial power without authority to do so and that she lacks an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law.

The court ruled that the board lacked authority to invalidate Cramblit’s petition after Sept 6., per Ohio Revised Code 3501.39(B), which states that a board of election shall not invalidate a nominating petition after the 60th day before the election.

The court found that because “the board did not conduct a hearing resembling a judicial trial, it did not exercise quasi-judicial power and Keith has not stated a valid claim in prohibition. We therefore dismiss Keith’s complaint.”

Cramblit, who is not a defendant in the case, put out documents from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles showing that he had applied for a state driver’s license with an Ironton address in 2009, 2012 and 2016. He also put out Ironton tax returns showing an Ironton address for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Since there was no ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court by election day, Cramblit’s name was on the ballot and the board of elections certified him the winner of the mayor’s race after he won with 2,055 votes to Keith’s 816 votes.