WARREN - The Trumbull Board of Elections has refused a request to certify early the nominating petitions for a Warren attorney who wants to be on the November ballot as a judicial candidate for Eastern District Court.
The seat attorney Randil J. Rudloff is seeking could be eliminated because it is being considered for consolidation with another court in the jurisdiction. In letters to the board last month, Rudloff sought ''appropriate action to immediately review and certify those petitions,'' reasoning Ohio law doesn't prohibit the board from acting now and ''the existence of a bona fide candidate with certified petitions'' would factor into the consideration of merging Eastern and Central District courts.
But the board determined Tuesday it would wait until after Aug. 8, the filing deadline for candidates in non-partisan races, to certify Rudloff's petitions or any other candidate petitions who may file by then.
It's been the practice of the board in Trumbull to wait until after the filing deadline, said Kelly Pallante, elections board director.
Rudloff, a Democrat, said he wasn't surprised or upset by the board's decision.
The Eastern District Court seat will be open because Judge Ron Rice is leaving to seek a seat as Trumbull County Common Pleas judge. As of now, he has no opponent in the fall.
Central District Judge Tom Campbell, who is pushing for court consolidation, said he has met with all state lawmakers from Trumbull County and has had preliminary conversations with leaders in the Ohio House and Senate.
Campbell, a Republican, also said he has a commitment from state Rep. Casey Kozlowski, R-Pierpont, to introduce the bill to combine the courts.
Commissioners in late April approved consolidation of the two courts, but ultimately the decision is with lawmakers in Columbus. A two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the General Assembly is needed to make the consolidation happen.
Campbell says a merger would save taxpayers at least $150,000 a year, including rent the county pays for the space in Brookfield and combining the two part-time judgeships into one full-time position, not including health or retirement benefits.
Campbell stands to benefit if the courts are combined.
His $65,650 yearly pay as a part-time judge would increase to $114,000 as a full-time judge. That also would provide a big boost to his retirement. He would also have to give up any part-time legal practice he maintains now.