The Montgomery County Board of Elections ruled Thursday morning that William Pace did not qualify to run for Dayton City Commission because of a problem with his acceptance of candidacy, which had to be filed by Wednesday according to Dayton’s city charter.
Steve Harsman, deputy director of the BOE, said his office received the signed acceptance from Pace via a fax, time-stamped 7:38 p.m. Wednesday. Pace had learned at 5:45 p.m. that he had not signed the statement on his previously filed petitions.
The BOE met Thursday morning, and Harsman said the body asked for a legal opinion from the city of Dayton’s law director, John Danish. Harsman had said Wednesday that the BOE had not accepted faxed or e-mailed signatures in the past.
Danish said Pace’s fax was not sufficient.
“Our charter requires a candidate to file an acceptance of the candidacy,” Danish said. “And the word ‘filing,’ I believe under court cases, means physical delivery to a government office, and that a facsimile does not qualify.”
Harsman said the BOE and its own attorney felt bound by that opinion from the city’s law director, and therefore did not certify Pace to the May 7 ballot.
Asked whether he would appeal the BOE’s decision, Pace directed questions to his attorney, but did not answer when asked who that was.
Pace was upset Wednesday that he learned of the problem from the Dayton Daily News, rather than from the Board of Elections. But BOE Director Betty Smith pointed to a 2011 directive from the Secretary of State’s office that “prohibits boards of election from pre-checking petitions for prospective candidates or petitioners who seek review of their petitions’ validity and sufficiency.”
The directive also says that “it is a well-established principle of Ohio election law that the candidate is solely responsible for ensuring that his or her own petition satisfies the requirements of law.”
The May 7 election will feature a three-person runoff for Dayton mayor of Gary Leitzell, A.J. Wagner and Nan Whaley. Two will advance to the November election. Five people will be on the ballot for the two city commission seats – David Esrati, David K. Greer, Joseph Lutz, Jeffrey Mims and Joey Williams – with four advancing to November’s ballot.
The May 7 ballot also will feature school, city and township tax levies for a variety of communities. April 8 is the deadline to register to vote.