HUDSON — Following Tuesday’s election, City Council will have three new faces starting next month.
It was a busy campaign season as three Ward 1 candidates had their qualifications challenged, followed by hearings before the Summit County Board of Elections. Of the three candidates, one was ruled ineligible due to conflict of interest, and the other two were found not in violation of residency requirements. However, one of those two was referred by the board of elections to the county prosecutor’s office for alleged illegal voting. The prosecutor’s office presented the complaint to the Summit County Grand Jury, which did not issue an indictment.
In another twist, a resident who had challenged the three candidates was herself accused of illegal voting and had her case heard before the board of elections, which dismissed the complaint.
In the meantime, it was discovered that a statewide conservative group endorsed three of the four winning council candidates, along with the winning mayoral candidate, Craig Shubert, who defeated one-term incumbent Dave Basil.
The final, but unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections in the council races were:
• Ward 1: Kate Schlademan, 631; Ron Panaggio, 556; Rebecca Benson Leiter, 258; and S. David Worhatch, 179.
• Ward 2, Chris Foster, 938; Lisa Radigan (incumbent), 783.
• Ward 3, Skylar Sutton, 841; Brett Shriver, 495.
• Ward 4, Beth Bigham (incumbent), 1,037; Nicole R. Davis, 535.
Ward 1 Council member Dennis Hanink and Ward 3 Council member Alex Kelemen both decided against seeking re-election this year.
Results will be certified by the board of elections on Nov. 26.
The four-year terms in office will begin on Dec. 3.
Council members are paid $80 per meeting with a maximum of two meetings (or $160) per month.
Candidacies, voting records challenged
In August, resident Jessica Obert challenged the candidacies of Ward 1 candidates George Roth, Schlademan and Worhatch. The board allowed Schlademan and Worhatch to remain on the ballot, but ruled that Roth was ineligible to run because his company was contracted to do work on the new city hall building.
Obert had challenged Schlademan’s candidacy on the grounds that she had not lived in the city long enough to run for office. Schlademan provided documents showing she met the residency requirement, but, in the course of the August hearing, admitted she had previously voted in Stow while living in Hudson. In September, the board referred the matter to the county prosecutor to decide whether Schlademan should face criminal charges. In October, a Summit County grand jury decided against indicting Schlademan on illegal voting charges.
Obert, who was the leader of Hudson’s Voice LLC, which opposed the proposed Downtown Phase II project, had her voting record challenged in September by Arthur J. Creehan Jr., the leader of Citizens For An Informed Hudson, a group that favored Phase II.
Creehan said Obert lives at 76 Parmelee Drive, but has been registered to vote at her parents’ address at 64 Owen Brown St., for the last five years. At a hearing in October, attorneys for Obert presented an affidavit in which Obert said she moved to her parents’ home at 64 Owen Brown St. in 2011 and registered to vote at that address in November 2012. Her parents in November 2012 bought a home at 76 Parmelee Drive. Renovation is being done on the Parmelee Drive home, and Obert’s attorney Michael P. O’Donnell said Obert’s affidavit "makes it very clear ...that until the renovations are complete at the home on Parmelee, she believes that her current voting address is the Owen Brown address and that’s consistent with where she’s voted."
The board of elections then decided against asking the prosecutor to investigate the Obert matter.
Statewide conservative group backed four of the five winning candidates
A statewide conservative group supported four of the five candidates who were winners in Hudson on Tuesday.
Accountability Project Ohio endorsed Bigham, Foster, Sutton, Shubert and Panaggio, who lost to Schlademan.
The group recently purchased upwards of $3,596 in Facebook ads to support these five candidates.
The Accountability Project’s website is paid for by the Accountability Project Institute, which shares a phone number and address with Politics Counsel, a political consulting firm on Capital Square in Columbus. The firm’s director, Mark R. Weaver, emailed GateHouse Media Ohio with details about the group.
"Our client is the Accountability Project Institute," he wrote. "…The organization usually picks a local campaign or two each cycle, does a review of local issues and candidates, asks for information from the candidates and then seeks to educate voters in the area."
While Weaver’s firm supports Republican candidates, the Accountability Project Institute backs school board, judicial and council candidates with conservative leanings.
Weaver said his client follows all applicable campaign laws, but he would not disclose the group’s donors or officers, which are listed in a 2016 tax filing as Charles S. Marsh, Anne R. Staugler, Lynn E. Green and Thomas A. Rankin.
Editor’s note: GateHouse Media Ohio Reporter Doug Livingston contributed to this story.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.