Elections board denies protest, Stevens remains candidate for sheriff

Seneca County Board of Elections denied a protest filed against the candidacy for sheriff of Tiffin Police Chief Fred Stevens.

Stevens’ name will be remain on the March 17 ballot.

The protest was filed by Thomas Daniel.

During the hearing, Daniel said he was concerned that Stevens hadn’t followed the requirements of the Ohio Revised Code when filing his petition.

“I accomplished everything that was in the requirements,” Stevens said. “I had above and beyond the requirements.”

Candidates for sheriff must meet specific criteria to be certified. Among them, a judge must review his or her credentials and fingerprints must be submitted.

Stevens said he had fingerprints taken at three locations, but copies of the prints were delayed by the pre-Christmas mail rush, and he noted the delay during the board’s hearing certification meeting Dec. 23.

In addition, he said the two common pleas judges were on vacation during the holiday season, which further delayed the process.

All four board of elections members agreed Stevens had met the requirements.

“We want candidates on the ballot,” board member David Koehl said. “We want voters to have a choice.

“In this case, Mr. Stevens said to the board at the time he was aware he was a little late,” he said. “There’s nothing secret about this.”

“We’re as open and transparent as we can be here,” said board member Mike Bridinger. “In my opinion you did your due diligence to get your name on the ballot.

“The key is to be fair to the voters,” he said. “The voters should decide on who is going to be the Seneca County sheriff, not four board members. That’s my opinion.”

The legal opinion of Prosecutor Derek DeVine, which the board chose to share with the public, was that “Candidate Stevens has met the substantive requirements to be a candidate” according to the Ohio Revised Code.

In addition, DeVine said his written opinion that the decision was up to the board members.

“If the Board find the decision to be a technicality it would be within its authority to deny the protest,” DeVine wrote.

In other business during the board’s regular meeting, members accepted equipment allocations and a training schedule as recommended by the directors.

They also approved chargebacks as required by law to entities which places issues on the ballot as their share in the election costs.

The board’s next meeting is to be a delayed Christmas dinner Jan. 30.