Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell, City Commission candidate David Esrati and others have filed friend-of-the-court briefs, supporting William Pace’s Ohio Supreme Court effort to become a write-in candidate for City Commission in November.
Leitzell’s brief makes an argument similar to Pace’s own filing, claiming that since Dayton’s city charter does not specifically mention a prohibition against write-in candidates in general elections, those write-ins should be allowed under state law.
Leitzell’s filing, through attorney Todd Connell, claims that the Montgomery County Board of Elections’ refusal to accept Pace as a write-in “presents a danger of dampening the participation of all qualified citizens in the political process in contravention of Ohio general election law.”
Pace served as a volunteer community liaison to Leitzell during and after the mayor’s 2009 campaign.
Esrati’s brief, which was co-filed by seven other local residents, also through Connell, makes similar points. It also claims that the structure of county boards of election in Ohio — with two Democrats and two Republicans on each — threatens the fairness of the process to independent candidates.
Both the Montgomery County Board of Elections and the city of Dayton have filed motions to dismiss Pace’s case. They claim that Section 7(A) of the city charter clearly shows that write-in candidates are not permitted.
That section begins by saying that “Candidates for Commissioners and Mayor under the provisions of this charter shall be nominated by a primary election …”
Pace tried to get on the ballot for that May 7 primary election, but the BOE deemed his petitions invalid, saying he failed to properly sign and submit an acceptance of candidacy statement.
Pace challenged that BOE decision in U.S. District Court, but lost, and did not appeal the court’s ruling.
Dayton’s election for mayor and city commission will be held Nov. 5. Nan Whaley and A.J. Wagner are the candidates for mayor, having defeated Leitzell in the May primary. Barring a court ruling, the candidates for the two city commission seats will be the four who advanced from the May primary — Esrati, David K. Greer, Jeffrey Mims and incumbent Joey Williams.