Monday, September 23, 2019 Medina 78°


Courthouse initiative lacks valid signatures


MEDINA TWP. — Efforts to garner public opinion by way of the ballot box fell short with another hot button topic Wednesday — this time it’s the shared courthouse project.

The Medina County Board of Elections checked the initiative petitions regarding the courthouse. The board found 690 valid signatures — far short of the 983 that were needed.

The Save Our Courthouse group turned in its signatures to Medina Finance Director Keith Dirham July 26 and he transmitted them to the board of elections Tuesday.

The group amassed a total of 1,016 signatures.

Of the 326 invalid signatures, 126 were from out of the area, 79 were not qualified voters and 55 of the signatures did not match.

“The Save Our Courthouse Committee and the more than 1,000 people who signed the initiative petitions, are disappointed with the determination by the Medina County Board of Elections that the number of voter signatures on our petitions was not sufficient,” committee spokesperson Pat Walker said. “However, the Ohio Constitution and the past practice that has been consistently adhered to by the Board of Elections, should grant the committee an additional 10 days to gather the needed number of signatures to place the measure on the ballot this November. The committee plans to gather the additional signatures so that the people of Medina have a vote before our historic (Medina) County Courthouse is torn down and more than $40 million of the citizens’ money is spent on an unneeded and inadequate replacement courthouse.”

This is the second citizen-initiative effort that failed to result in ballot issues for November.

A referendum petition on LBGTQ ordinance 112-19 didn’t make the cut when it missed the deadline Tuesday to turn it its signatures to Dirham, who is required by law to hold onto them for a 10-day period for public inspection, and won’t turn them in until Monday — past Wednesday’s filing deadline.

Not being on the November ballot isn’t a defeat to the Ohio Christian Alliance, said President Chris Long.

“We will be on the ballot in (November) 2020 if the signatures are verified by the Medina (Board of Elections),” he said. “Furthermore the ordinance will not go into effect until the referendum is decided by the Medina voters in the fall of 2020.

“The Concerned Citizens of Medina city who circulated and those who signed the petition want their voices heard on this important policy proposal,” Long said.

“With nearly 1,200 residents of the city of Medina signing the petition, it is clear that City Council was out of step with the will of the city residents regarding this proposed ordinance, and that the tone deaf nature of the City Council members disregarded the concerns raised by residents about the public accommodation portion of the ordinance. The issue will now be decided by the voters.”

But first the general election will offer electors an opportunity to decide location leadership in Medina County cities, townships and villages.

There are six mayoral races in the Nov. 5 general election, but only two of them will have opponents.

In Lodi, incumbent Robert Geissman will be opposed by village councilwoman Letha Mapes.

In Spencer Village, incumbent Danny Derossett will be opposed by village councilman Jim Stangel.

Mayors running unopposed will be Wadsworth’s Robin Laubaugh, Gloria Glens’ John Dean, Seville’s Carol Carter and Westfield Center’s Thomas Horwedel.

There will be much competition for City Council seats in Medina.

The biggest name to run is former Medina County Commissioner Adam Friedrick, who will oppose incumbent Eric Heffinger in Ward 3.

At-Large Councilman Bill Lamb will go against newcomer Bob Mihalko, Ward 1 Councilman Bob Starcher will face Jess Hazeltine and Ward 2 Councilman Dennie Simpson will square off against Michael Ryan.

Council President John Coyne and Ward 4 Councilman Jim Shields will run unopposed.

In Brunswick, there are Council seats open in four wards, but only two of them will be opposed.

Incumbent Andrea Rodriguez will face off with Frank Raso in Ward 3, and incumbent Anthony Capretta will oppose Drew Burg in Ward 4.

Ward 1 Councilman Michael Abella and Ward 2’s Nicholas Hanek will be unopposed.

In Wadsworth, only one ward will be contested. In Ward 3, incumbent Lee Potts will oppose Jeanne Hines.

The rest of Council will be unopposed, including Council President Bob Thurber; At-Large Councilwoman Patricia Haskins; At-Large Councilmen Thomas Stugmyer and David Williams; Ward 1’s Ralph Copley and Ward 4’s Bruce Darlington.

Newcomer Jon Yurchiak, a member of Main Street Wadsworth’s board of directors, will run unopposed for the Ward 2 seat.

There will be several races for school board seats, starting in Medina where President Ron Ross will be running against newcomers Brian Hilberg and Keith Rasey for two spots. Hilberg is a former city councilman.

In Wadsworth, board president Linda Kramer will run against newcomers Nicholas Kovalchik and Jill Stevens for two seats.

Brunswick incumbents Richard Nowak and Nancy Zelei will run unopposed.

President Barbara Gunkelman will be running against three other candidates for two seats on the Buckeye school board. Others running are Robert Banaga, Kim Cecelich and Jessica Riggs.

Cloverleaf board president Jeffrey Schreiber is running against two newcomers for two seats on the board. They are Martin Kerr and Rhonda Wurgler, executive director of the Children’s Center of Medina County.

Incumbents will run unopposed for two seats on each of the Black River and Highland school boards. President Norman Christopher and Michael Houska will be unopposed in Highland, with President Scott Meredith and Vice President Chuck Stiver doing the same in Black River.

Incumbent Mark Kollar is running against three newcomers for two seats on the Educational Service Center’s Governing Board. The others are Diana Clarke, Dominic Ravanelli and Carolyn Weglewski.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or

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