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Falls election to be in 2020

Petitions must be filed for 2 seats by Dec. 18

WARREN — After reviewing additional legal opinions and sections of Newton Falls’ charter, the Trumbull County Board of Elections decided unanimously Friday to have elections for the village’s 1st and 3rd Wards in 2020, not in 2021.

That leaves any candidates interested in running for the seats about a month to file petitions with the board before the Dec. 18 filing deadline. And, whoever wins the March 17 primary and November general election will only be safe in the seats for a short time because they will have to run again in 2021.

Council members appointed Zachary Svette to the 1st Ward seat in May and former Mayor Lyle A. Waddell to the 3rd Ward seat, stepping down from the mayor’s seat, for which he was unable to run again because of term limits.

The decision to reverse an October decision to just wait until the regularly scheduled 2021 election came down to three words at the end of this sentence in the village charter: “The individual filling the vacancy shall be appointed only until a general election can be held for the office.”

While a “general election” is a November election in an even numbered year, village, city and township elections are held on odd-numbered years.

The board members had to decide if “for the office” was significant, or if the designation of “general” should be followed.

In an October ruling, the board decided “for the office” should be interpreted as the next typically scheduled election.

But village manager David Lynch argued Friday, presenting new case law and an opinion from village law director Joseph Fritz that the elections board wasn’t given in October.

He argued that the charter meant the next general election — 2020. That’s because in other parts of the charter, other language is used to state other vacancies should be filled in the next municipal election, in odd-numbered years.

“When they say general election, they mean general. And when they say municipal election, they mean municipal,” Lynch said.

And, Lynch argued, Fritz, as law director, has the right to interpret to the charter and request action based on his interpretation, as outlined in Ohio Supreme Court case law dealing with a Lucas County case.

The board agreed in a 4-0 vote.

The board’s employees are expected to begin planning ballots for the 2020 primary.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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