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Councilman target of Falls recall

John Baryak calls action ‘frivolous’

NEWTON FALLS — A member of village council and an ex-member of village council want Second Ward village councilman John Baryak off village council.

Fourth Ward Councilman Phillip Beer and former Second Ward Councilwoman Nancy Hoffman filed petitions to recall Baryak with the Trumbull County Board of Elections, which has set a meeting for later this month to determine if the matter will appear on the May 7 ballot.

Beer and Hoffman — who filed to replace Baryak if the recall makes the ballot and is successful and who is running against Baryak for the Democratic nomination in May for a new term — claim in the petition Baryak is guilty of misfeasance, did not properly conduct the business of the city or wisely spend taxpayers’ money.

His term expires at the end of the year.

Baryak, through his attorney, is protesting the recall and sought the hearing with the board to “submit his argument and evidence supporting his protest,” according to a letter to elections board Director Stephanie Penrose.

The hearing is 2 p.m. Feb. 25.

“The allegation of misfeasance in office is blatantly false, and the remaining alleged bases for removal are frivolous as Mr. Baryak does not have unilateral decision-making authority as a member of council,” Baryak’s attorney, Tonya J. Rogers of North Canton, wrote.

She included a letter from Newton Falls’ Law Director A. Joseph Fritz stating Baryak has not been found guilty or charged with misfeasance or malfeasance while in office.

“Mr. Baryak takes his Oath of Office seriously, and there is nothing in the subject recall petition which suggests that Mr. Baryak has violated his Oath of Office or engaged in any type of illegal conduct,” Rogers wrote. “Thus, the petitioners have failed to include sufficient grounds in their effort to remove a sitting official from serving the term to which he was elected by the voters of Newton Falls.”

Beer and Hoffman filed the recall petitions with the elections board to review and certify in October, but the board waited to review the matter until now because it was too late for it to appear on the November ballot.

Baryak was recalled in 1993 from his Fourth Ward seat after becoming a target of a citizens group that claimed he and two other members of council also recalled were holding illegal meetings and ignoring the concerns of their constituents.

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