The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

July 4, 2013

Ashtabula County charter petitions subject of Friday meeting

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Petitions submitted by an organization that wants to put its plans for a charter form of Ashtabula County government before voters this fall have been checked by the Board of Elections, Carol Lovas, board director, said Wednesday.

“We got them done in two days,” she said. “We brought in two extra helpers.”

Board members will learn how many of the 3,100 signatures gathered by charter proponents pass muster at a 10 a.m. meeting Friday at the board office, 8 W. Walnut St., Jefferson. Representatives of the Committee for a New Ashtabula, which is seeking the change, will be attending, said Robert Malinowski, committee member.

“We’re supposed to hear everything on Friday,” he said.

Some 2,979 valid signatures are needed to qualify the charter question for a spot on the November general election ballot. If the number falls short, the group will have additional time to round up more signatures. If the threshold is met, the petitions will be certified to the county commissioners, who in turn would issue a resolution placing the measure on the ballot, officials have said.

Lovas declined to comment on the outcome of the board’s petition review, preferring to save the numbers for board members. County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini said he was asked to render an opinion on a matter pertaining to the petitions, but also declined to elaborate until the meeting.

“We’ll let (the board) release it,” he said.

Committee members filed their petitions on Friday. The election board had until Monday to complete its review of the names, but wanted to expedite the work in part because of today’s July 4 holiday.

The plan would replace the county’s three elected commissioners with an elected, seven-member council, which would hire a professional administrator to oversee county operations.