Delaware City Council hopeful George Hellinger learned last week he will have to win over the Delaware County Board of Elections before he gets the chance to sway voters.
Hellinger plans to appeal a board decision that invalidated the petitions he submitted Aug. 7 to have his name placed on the November ballot.
"The board of elections Deputy Director Josh Pedaline called me on Tuesday (Aug. 13), and (the board) must have just got done doing their reviews because he told me they weren't going to validate my petitions because they were not affixed," Hellinger said.
The Ohio Revised Code states "all separate petition papers shall be filed at the same time, as one instrument."
Hellinger said he printed petition forms from the board of elections' website. He said he turned in six papers: three pages that contained a total of 33 signatures -- 25 are required -- and three pages before each of those that explained the petition's purpose. All the papers were placed in a pile and handed to the board of elections workers, Hellinger said.
If those papers had been printed back to back -- as they are when picked up from the board of elections office, as opposed to printed off the website -- or stapled or paper-clipped together, Hellinger would be in the clear.
Pedaline said the code is in place to ensure registered voters know what they're signing when they write their names on petitions.
Although Pedaline said the board doesn't believe Hellinger was deceitful when collecting signatures, it had no choice but to invalidate them.
"Our board has to apply the law equally to everyone, and this was the tough decision our board had to make," he said.
In an effort to ease the board's mind ahead of his appeal, Hellinger has contacted everyone who signed his petition and asked for their help. He said his supporters have been sending emails to Pedaline in which they explain they were aware of the purpose for his petition.
Hellinger currently is chairman of the city's planning commission, a position to which he was appointed seven years ago.
Because of his spot on the planning commission, Hellinger called running for council a "no-lose situation."
"I truly enjoy planning commission, but if I could be a council rep to the planning commission, that could be even better," he said.
"I've done a lot of reading going through the Ohio Revised Code; I'm looking at case law and I will put up a very strong fight," he said, "because quite honestly, I don't think it was a valid reason to disqualify me."
Hellinger and any other Delaware County candidates whose petitions were ruled invalid will have the opportunity to appeal to the board at an Aug. 27 meeting.
Petitions filed by City Council candidates Robert Hoffman, Teri M. Owens, Terrie Price, Jeff Rike, Kent Shafer and incumbent Carolyn Kaye Riggle all have been certified. They will contend for one of three at-large council seats Nov. 5.
Council members Windell Wheeler and Gary Milner have chosen not to run for re-election.