Dan Polivka appeals to Ohio Supreme Court
Asks justices to overturn decision on Frenchko’s Trumbull County residency
WARREN — A former Trumbull County commissioner has filed a notice of appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking to overturn the Dec. 30, 2020, decision by a retired Stark County judge that affirmed his opponent’s victory in the November election.
Rick Brunner, attorney for former Commissioner Daniel E. Polivka, filed a notice of appeal with the Ohio high court on Monday.
In a letter to the Trumbull County Clerk of Courts, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is seeking all available records of the case, including the docket, motions and all related hearing transcripts.
Polivka is appealing the decision by retired Judge John Haas who ruled current Commissioner Niki Frenchko is a legal Trumbull County resident and upheld the Sept. 8, 2020, decision of the Trumbull County Board of Elections.
Brunner and Polivka had petitioned the court either to overturn the Nov. 3, 2020, election that saw Frenchko win by 4.5 percentage points or call a new election for commissioner. The ruling, in effect, showed that Frenchko is qualified to serve a four-year term as commissioner which began Jan. 3, 2021.
“Dan is sad and pathetic. His chase for false hope proves it,” Frenchko said.
Testimony was given by a handful of people, including Polivka and Frenchko, during the Dec. 30 hearing in the large second-floor courtroom at the Trumbull County Courthouse.
Questions to the candidates by three attorneys centered around Frenchko’s dual residency in Trumbull and Lake counties, and why Polivka waited until after the election to file any legal action.
Haas, who was selected by the Ohio Supreme Court to hear the case after all the common pleas judges in Trumbull County asked for a visiting judge, said the matter was more a protest of a candidacy instead of a contested election.
“No. 1, the public spoke. They voted (on Nov. 3). They exercised their rights,” Haas ruled from the bench after the lengthy hearing. “While the court finds there was reason for concern relative to the (Frenchko child’s) education in Mentor, she (Niki Frenchko) has shown to this court’s satisfaction that she has a residence here, and we believe she will be living here in the future.”
Haas had reviewed the briefs written by the attorneys as well as the transcript of the Sept. 8 Trumbull County Board of Elections hearing in which the board voted 4-0 that Frenchko was a qualified resident of 170 Kenilworth Ave. SE in Warren.
Haas ruled the board of election, which also was named in Polivka’s complaint, did its job.
“They did (an investigation) and on the same day (Sept. 8) made a decision, voting that she was a qualified elector of Trumbull County,” Haas said.
Polivka, after the hearing, said he was disappointed and questioned the need for residency laws for candidates.
“If the courts are not going to uphold the laws of the land, then they should just throw out all residency laws, and you should be able to run wherever you want to run,” Polivka said after the hearing.
Polivka, 56, also the chairman of the Trumbull County Democratic Party, first was appointed to the board of commissioners in 2004. Before that, he served on Warren City Council from 1983 to 2004.