Petition flaws foil re-election bids for Warren County officials

“Fatal flaws” on nominating petitions ended the re-election bids of two incumbents each with 16 years in elected office in Warren County.

The nominating petitions of Lebanon City Councilman Jim Norris and Kings Local School Board member Bonnie Baker-Hicks were among 15 aspiring candidates rejected by the Warren County Board of Elections.

“I think it’s crazy,” said Baker-Hicks, who graduated from the Kings district in 1966 and taught there for 30 years before being elected to the school board. “It sure hurts like crazy.”

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The board also rejected the petitions of incumbent Lebanon City Councilman Steve Kaiser, who was elected to his first four-year term in 2013.

Kaiser said he fell short of the required number of valid signatures by failing to sign one of four petitions filed with the local election board.

“I thought I checked them all,” said Kaiser. “I guess I just wait two years” until the next council election.

This sets the stage for election of at least two new members of Lebanon City Council in November, according to local election officials.

In the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Amy Brewer and Councilwoman Wendy Monroe will seek re-election in a race for four seats on Lebanon City Council with Paula Cramer, Doug Shope, Ryan Tasseff and Krista Wyatt.

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In the Kings school district, challengers Deb Cowan and Rona Walter are the only candidates running for three open seats.

A third challenger, Mike Stylski also failed to submit enough valid signatures.

Baker-Hicks said she would accept appointment to the open seat, unless someone is elected through a write-in campaign.

The deadline to file to be a write-in candidate is Aug. 28 at 4 p.m.

Brian Sleeth, election board director, said fatal flaws to nominating petitions also ended the re-election hopes of Waynesville City Councilman Brian Blankenship and Carlisle Councilwoman Barb Tankersley.

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Others candidates rejected include David T. Forman for Butlerville Village Council, Beverly Altimari for Butlerville mayor, Chris Gallagher for Hamilton Township trustee, Sean Riley for Lebanon City Council, Douglas Drook for Maineville Village Council, Benjamin Steiner, George Bocklett and Luanne Cain for Morrow Village Council and George Teasdale for South Lebanon Village Council.

‘Fatal flaw’ is a term in state election law used to describe errors on nominating petitions that result in them being invalidated, including in a 2010 Ohio Supreme Court ruling in a Warren County case.

In addition to missing signatures, Sleeth said, filers can be disqualified for incomplete “circulator statements,” required of those seeking the signatures, or incomplete certificates of candidacy.

Baker-Hicks said she checked a helper’s circulator statement, but not her own.

“My mind just wasn’t focusing on what I was supposed to be doing. That’s the story,” she said.

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