ASHTABULA — The Ward 3 City Council seat was at the center of controversy for more than half of 2018.

Reginald Holman resigned on April 2 just hours before his fellow City Council members were 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.

Holman was also indicted in May and accused of knowingly registering or making application to register in a precinct in which he was not a qualified voter.

Both the council resolution and charges stemmed from testimony Holman gave March 21 to the Ashtabula County Board of Elections, as part of a voter registration and residency challenge filed by Ashtabula City Solicitor Michael Franklin. Based on the “substantial evidence” presented at the hearing, the Board of Elections unanimously determined Holman was not a resident of 1123 W. 43rd St., and removed him from the voter registration rolls. 

Holman has maintained repeatedly that he did nothing wrong and was living at the West 43rd Street address.

Prior to his resignation, Holman had already been a controversial figure because he was investigated — but never charged — in connection to the December 2017 theft of money from a West Avenue home. He had also failed a drug test after his 2017 election, testing positive for elements found in marijuana and cocaine, and had faced calls from fellow council members, most notably Michael Speelman, for him to resign on the basis of the drug test alone.

In April, following Holman’s resignation, Tara Hawkins was chosen to fill the seat by the Democratic precinct committee. However, a week later Hawkins, after receiving two legal opinions, declined the seat because she was told she could not serve on Ashtabula City Council and be a classified employee at the Ashtabula County Treasurer’s Office at the same time.

Democrats then selected Richard Quaranta to fill the Ward 3 seat in May, but he was not sworn in until August as the city had to wait for Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Gary Yost to decide on a request for a temporary restraining order against filed by Republican Kristy Hosken, who had held the seat until losing to Holman in the November 2017 election.

According to Hosken’s complaint, Holman was not a valid candidate and therefore, she was the only rightful candidate on the November ballot.

In July, Yost dismissed Hoksen’s complaint “as it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

Holman’s criminal voter fraud case remains open, with a trial date scheduled for Feb. 4, 2019.