Stephanie Kunze says she has no intention of withdrawing from the Hilliard City Council race and blasted her critics in a letter she presented to council members Monday night.

Stephanie Kunze says she has no intention of withdrawing from the Hilliard City Council race and blasted her critics in a letter she presented to council members Monday night.

The letter was given to council president Brett Sciotto prior to city council's decision to appoint James Ashenhurst to serve out the remaining six months of Kim Allison's term.

Kunze said before the vote that she was OK with the decision if it didn't go her way.

"This letter is to advise you that I will abide by whatever decision council as a whole decides this evening," Kunze wrote. "But I will also advise you that I am resolute in my determination to continue my campaign for city council, no matter the outcome of the vote tonight."

Kunze also fired back at Seattle election law attorney Robert A. Beattey, who has questioned her candidacy.

"I am a legitimate candidate for Hilliard City Council, notwithstanding the ill-advised opinion of someone who is not even a resident of Ohio, much less a qualified voter in the city of Hilliard," she wrote. "I will not be intimidated by a lawyer 2,500 miles away who purports to represent the interests of a cowardly local client who chooses to hide behind a cloak of anonymity."

Kunze said she is running for city council because she has "an abiding desire to serve this community, and because the Franklin County Board of Elections, the Franklin County Republican Party and our own city law director say I am a qualified and legitimate council candidate."

Kunze acknowledged that the controversy surrounding her candidacy would likely cost her the appointment.

"What stands in the way of my appointment tonight is not the Hilliard City Charter, but a poor and distant interpretation of the Hilliard City Charter," she wrote. "Under any other circumstance, my standing as the top vote-getter in the May Primary Election would be sufficient to earn me an appointment to Hilliard City Council.

In my view and in the view of everyone knowledgeable who counts, the City Charter and its 'home-rule' foundation is clear and unambiguous in sanctioning my standing as a legitimate and qualified candidate for office. I think it is clear the charter speaks to the legitimacy of my candidacy in three specific sections."

The sections of the charter she referred to included:

Qualifications: "Any registered voter, who has resided for one year in the city or in territory annexed thereto by the date of filing of his petition of candidacy, shall be eligible to have his name placed on the ballot, if his petition is sufficient as hereinafter provided, and to serve as a member of Council, if elected."

Incompatible Offices: "No holder of an incompatible office under the national, state, or county government shall be eligible to enter upon or hold office as a Council member.

Election Contests: "The Council shall be the judge of the election and qualifications of its own members, and for such purpose shall have power by subpoena to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of ballots and records."

Kunze said the charter "speaks clearly about who is eligible to run for council and when all is said and done, it is council that is the ultimate authority in determining the election and qualifications of its own members."

Kunze concluded her letter by saying she will continue to campaign until the November election.

"I will not be deterred from serving on Hilliard City Council whether by appointment here tonight and/or by election in the November general election," she said. "I am committed, not out of stubbornness or a sense of entitlement, to continue my fight right up to Election Day.

"If there is a question in your mind about the legitimacy of my candidacy, rest assured there is no question in my mind about the legitimacy of my candidacy. I look forward to serving with you on city council either beginning tonight and/or in 2010 when I expect to be sworn in as duly elected member of council."