Loveland Magazine will broadcast live (Facebook) Friday morning from the Hamilton County Board of Elections at 8:30 AM as Loveland Mayor Mark Fitzgerald challenges and appeals the decision of the validity of petitions submitted for his recall from office.
Loveland, Ohio – After the Hamilton County Board of Elections on Tuesday gave Loveland Mayor Mark Fitzgerald five days to resign or face a recall vote this November he filed an appeal of the Board’s decision. The appeal hearing will be this Friday at 8:30 AM at 4700 Smith Road in Norwood.
On August 5, the Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee (LCHPAC) returned to again submit petitions to place the recall of Loveland Mayor Mark Fitzgerald on the November ballot. Fitzgerald has two years remaining on his four-year term and the group wants Neal Oury to run head-to-head with the Mayor so Oury can serve the remaining two years.
Slightly more than 1,800 signatures were gathered in a week on a revised petition after their first signature drive proved unsuccessful because of insufficient language on the petition. Previously, more 2,054 signatures were gathered and submitted on July 22.
In a statement to the Loveland Community Heartbeat PAC Tuesday, Sherry Poland, the Director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections said, “On August 4, 2017, the Hamilton County Board of Elections received a petition for the recall election of Mark J. Fitzgerald and an election of a successor. We have completed the review of the petitions and determined the petitions to be sufficient.”
Poland said that if Fitzgerald does not resign within five days, an election will be held at the next general election on November 7. She also informed the community group that attorney Doug Holthus, on behalf of Mark J. Fitzgerald, has requested a protest hearing on the validity of the petitions and that the board has scheduled a Special Meeting on Friday, August 11th at 8:30 AM to hold a hearing.
Halie Rebeccaschild, Secretary, and spokesperson for LCHPAC said on Tuesday, “Obviously, the first part of this correspondence contained excellent news, and the second part contained expected news, that Mark Fitzgerald challenges the merit of this recall petition.” She also said that although 1800 signatures were obtained within one week, Fitzgerald challenged it on two frivolous points that disregard the signers of the petition.
Fitzgerald through his attorney Holthus claims the title of the petition “Petition for Recall” should say “Petition of Recall and Replacement.” He also claims in the appeal that circulator Rebeccaschiid does not accurately identify her residence in the Circulator Statement on the Petition, and the signatures contained in documents verified by her should be invalidated.
Rebeccaschiid counters that her permanent address used for circulation is, “Indeed, correct and neither challenge appears to have ground, legal or otherwise.”
Fitzgerald’s attorney told the Board, that Rebeccaschild has, during at least one open meeting of the Loveland City Council, indicated that she does not live at the address on the petitions she circulated and that her residence and point of contact is, instead, located on Lyons Avenue.
William Durnette, the attorney for the recall committee members said in a letter to the Board that in state or local law there is no requirement for headings on petitions. He also said that the permanent residence address Rebeccaschild provided on the petitions she circulated is, as the Board can confirm, the same address that is with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles for both her automobile title and driver’s license, and with the Board of Elections.
Loveland Magazine asked Fitzgerald Tuesday night if he had any response to the decision the Election Director made and if he would resign if he receives an unfavorable decision on his appeal. He declined to comment.
According to Loveland’s Solicitor, Joe Braun, Fitzgerald must resign or face the recall election and he must do so on Saturday, August 12 if he receives an unfavorable decision on Friday. Braun also said that if Fitzgerald decides to face the recall election and he wins, City taxpayers will have to pay 50% of Fitzgerald’s campaign expenses. If he loses, taxpayers will be off the hook.
Neal Oury has told Loveland Magazine that he has enough signatures on a petition to go head-to-head with Fitzgerald in a recall election and he will file the petition depending on Fitzgerald’s decision on Saturday. Oury has already filed petitions for one of the open Council seats this November and will withdraw it if Fitzgerald does not resign.
Also read all of Loveland Magazine’s reporting on the recall and other area election news HERE.