SHEFFIELD TWP. — Backers of a plan to reform Lorain County government once again appear to have succeeded in getting the measure on the November ballot.
The Lorain County Board of Elections certified the signatures of the petitions filed and voted in favor of the validity of the petition, according to Director Paul Adams.
“With the county charter, there were two items the board had to make a determination on,” Adams said. “First is the validity of the signatures, and they did have enough valid signatures. That passed unanimously. Then there was a question on the validity of the petition itself.”
The Board voted 2-1 in favor of the petition’s validity, with Anthony Giardini casting the dissenting vote.
Former Lorain County Commissioner Dave Moore, a Republican leader of the reform effort, said he’s thrilled the board voted in favor of the measure appearing on the ballot.
“It was a huge victory for the citizens because they get to vote now,” Moore said. “At least let them decide.”
While it appears the issue of government reform will be on the ballot, Adams said there’s still a chance it could be thrown out.
“At this point, the board has made that determination,” Adams said. “There’s a period in which there could be protests, and I don’t know if there will be. Certainly, there is a possibility of there being a protest; that is what stopped if from appearing on the ballot last year.”
Last year, the group had a similar measure it believed would be on the general election ballot after Secretary of State Jon Husted broke a tie vote and voted in favor of the issue being on the ballot. Shortly after, though, three protests were filed, and Husted eventually threw the issue off the ballot.
Last year, protests against the measure were filed by Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evan, Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes and attorney Gerald Phillips. Innes and Phillips didn’t return calls requesting a comment on whether they planned to file protests this time around.
Evans said he isn’t sure whether he’ll file a protest.
“I haven’t made any plans. I haven’t seen what the proposal is yet,” Evans said. “I wasn’t going to look at it until they decided to proceed with it. I’ll be looking at it now and decide whether I want to oppose it or not.”
Moore said he’s confident the issue will appear on the November ballot even if a protest is filed against it.
“I think there might be some, but if there’s any protests, I can guarantee you it’s political only,” Moore said. “Even if there is a protest, I’m not worried. I’ve ran this through enough lawyers to be confident this can withstand any protest.”
The plan would replace the current three county commissioners with a seven-member council that would be elected from districts across the county.
The plan also would turn several jobs that are elected by voters, such as county recorder and treasurer, into appointed positions. Other positions, such as county prosecutor, sheriff and auditor, would remain independently elected offices.
Additionally, the plan calls for the creation of a county executive that would be appointed by the proposed county council.