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Ohio high court sides with Frenchko

The Ohio Supreme Court will not overturn the results of the November election that put Niki Frenchko in the Trumbull County commissioners office.

The court dismissed the appeal Dan Polivka, former Trumbull County commissioner, filed with the high court in February after a visiting judge in December ruled in Frenchko’s favor. Polivka sought court intervention in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to keep Frenchko from taking office. He asked the court to allow him to continue as commissioner and to hold another election, questioning Frenchko’s residency in Trumbull County. Polivka, the chairman of the Trumbull County Democratic Party, lost to the Republican by 4.5 percentage points in November.

The challenge was one of several attempts that sought to disqualify Frenchko from the office before and after she was elected. Her daughter attends school in Lake County and challengers argued that meant Trumbull County couldn’t be her county of residence.

The Trumbull County Board of Elections decided in September that Frenchko is a legal resident of Trumbull County. Retired visiting Judge John Haas in December ruled in Frenchko’s favor, confirming the decision of the board of elections.

Frenchko called the high court’s decision Monday a “satisfying win.”

“Over 50,000 votes would not have counted if my opponent got his way in court,” she stated in an email to the newspaper Monday afternoon. “It’s a satisfying win for not just me, but for everyone whose vote was fairly cast and counted. His (Polivka’s) effort to subvert the will of the people lacked legal standing based on the dismissal. I will continue work for the great people of Trumbull County to make changes, improve processes and to transform Trumbull County into a government we can trust and be proud of.”

Polivka did not respond to a call Monday afternoon seeking comment about the high court’s action.

The document announcing the court’s decision to dismiss the case was signed by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and filed Monday. Justices Sharon L. Kennedy and Jennifer Brunner did not participate in the decision. Kennedy removed herself in an earlier high court action involving Frenchko. Justice Brunner’s husband, Rick Brunner, represented Polivka in the appeal.

Polivka was first was appointed to the board of commissioners in 2004. He was on Warren City Council from 1983 to 2004.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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