An internal investigation by the Franklin County Republican Party has found no reason to question the eligibility of Stephanie Kunze, the winner of the May 5 Hilliard City Council GOP primary election.

An internal investigation by the Franklin County Republican Party has found no reason to question the eligibility of Stephanie Kunze, the winner of the May 5 Hilliard City Council GOP primary election.

Kunze was the big winner on primary election night, leading the six-candidate field with 828 votes, followed by council President Brett Sciotto (758), Jim Ashenhurst (740), council member Kelly McGivern (707), Heather Keck (653) and Doug Jackson (369).

The top four Republican candidates advance to November's general election, where they will face Democratic challenger Meagan Pandey. Four candidates will be elected to office.

Franklin County Republican Central Committee chairman Brad Sinnott said Thursday that the party received a complaint after the election questioning Kunze's eligibility because she is a classified employee of the Hilliard City School District.

Kunze, a 38-year-old political newcomer, is employed as a secretary at Norwich Elementary School.

Sections of both the Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code (Civil Service law) prohibit classified public employees from participation in partisan primary elections.

The specific reference in Section 123:1-46 of the Ohio Administrative Code states that classified public employees are prohibited from "candidacy for public office in a partisan election" and "candidacy for public office in a non-partisan general election."

Spokespersons for numerous authorities, including the Franklin County Board of Elections, Franklin County prosecutor, Ohio attorney general, Ohio secretary of state and the city of Hilliard, have said they were not responsible for determining if Kunze's candidacy violated Ohio law.

"The feature of this that is of interest to the Republican Party is ballot access," Sinnott said. "Stephanie filed a proper petition. The board of elections certified her to the ballot. There was a period of time under the law when somebody could have challenged whether Stephanie was properly on the ballot. No challenge was made.

"She stood for election in the Republican primary in Hilliard in May and she was one of the candidates nominated by the Republican voters of Hilliard. My expectation is that she is going to be a Republican candidate for city council this fall. That's really all there is to it," he said. "As far as the ballot access piece of this is concerned, which is the thing we are interested in as a party, those are the facts and all of the facts that matter. At this point, that's all there is and all I expect there to be."

For more details on this story, read the June 4 edition of ThisWeek Hilliard.

jdonahue@thisweeknews.com