JEFFERSON — An Ashtabula County Common Pleas judge has recused himself from the case involving former Ashtabula City officeholder Kristy Hosken, City Council and the Democratic Precinct Committee.
Last Saturday, Ashtabula County Democrats have picked Richard Quaranta to fill the Ward 3 city council seat, but Hosken, a Republican, is challenging to get the post back.
Hosken, who lost her bid for re-election last November to Democrat Reginald Holman, has filed a request for a temporary restraining order in County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Thomas Harris, who is a Democrat, said Thursday he recused himself because he wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety. He was elected Nov. 4, 2014, to a term that expires on Feb. 8, 2021, and he plans to run again.
County Common Pleas Judge Gary Yost, also a Democrat, has been assigned the case in place of Harris. No court dates have been set, as of Thursday, according to court records.
Yost was re-elected to the court in 2014, winning a new term that expires on Jan. 1, 2021. However, Yost can not run for judge again because the Ohio Constitution prohibits election of judges after they reach 70 years of age.
Hosken is referring all questions to her attorney, Casey P. O’Brien of Chardon.
According to the complaint, Holman was not a valid candidate and therefore, Hosken was the only rightful candidate on the November ballot, O’Brien said.
“Everyone is a victim here,” he said earlier this week. “We want to make sure everyone is treated fairly.”
Ashtabula City Solicitor Michael Franklin said he's researching the legal issues raised by the court filing. He hopes to meet with City Council in executive session to discuss the case and the City Council's potential response.
"It should be kept in mind that Council did not create this problem. It does not conduct elections or certify election results. Council has the limited right under the (City) Charter to judge the qualifications of its members, and the only qualifications listed in the Charter are being a resident of one's ward and being an elector of the city," Franklin said. "When City Council became aware that former council member Reginald Holman did not possess those qualifications, it passed a resolution finding he had forfeited the office. That began a chain of events that ended with his resignation, and the need to fill his seat."
Franklin said Council never took a position as to how the vacancy should be filled.
Holman resigned April 2 just hours before City Council was prepared to approve a resolution finding he vacated and forfeited the office of Ward 3 representative by reason of non-residency and failing to qualify as a voter.
Almost three weeks ago, Democrats chose 31-year-old Tara Hawkins for the Ward 3 seat. However six days later, she had to decline the appointment after learning she can not serve on Ashtabula City Council and be employed at the Ashtabula County Treasurer’s Office at the same time.