Akron — A citizens’ probate court complaint seeking the removal of Mayor Don Kuchta has been dismissed by the court.
Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer ruled Friday in favor of the city’s motion, filed by Law Director Joe Diemert, that the case be dismissed based on the city’s home rule authority as outlined in the city charter.
Stormer agreed with the motion.
“Does the charter trump the Ohio statutes? It will if it concerns matters relevant only to the city and are not matters of state-wide concern,” Stormer stated in her ruling. “The removal of Mayor Kuchta will only affect Macedonia and as such is purely a matter of local self-government, not of statewide concern.”
Stormer said the proper procedure for removing an elected official in Macedonia is through a recall election.
Resident Sue Belt, the lead plaintiff on the complaint, told the News Leader this morning her group is considering an appeal of the dismissal, but is still researching the procedure. She said she doesn’t care how long it takes, even if Kuchta leaves office (see related story), adding the theft in office allegation against Kuchta included in the complaint is “pretty serious.”
Belt and residents Nancy Harrity, John Matijasich, Orville Jackson Meade and Michael Miller filed the complaint July 9 alleging Kuchta failed to report “gifts” of a fishing trip and an asphalt walkway from contractors who work for the city, hid a garnishment order for two weeks to obtain law department services, kept Finance Director Scott Svab from performing his duties, received service director salary and received taxpayer-funded snow plowing and garbage pickup.
In an email to the News Leader Friday, Diemert called the complaint “an abuse of the court process,” and added the complaint was filed “for the sole purpose of harassment and embarrassment” of Kuchta.
Kuchta, who said the allegations against him can be explained, told the News Leader he will be looking into whether he has legal means of responding to them.
“These people are ruining my reputation and I don’t take that lightly,” he said. “I worked too hard to build my reputation.”
“It’s one thing if you have documented facts, but everything so far is just hearsay,” Kuchta said. “There are reasons for everything that happened.”
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432