The Scioto County Board of Elections heard arguments on Wednesday, and was asked to consider whether or not to strike Ken Reed's candidacy from the race for Scioto County sheriff.
Jeffrey Louis Craig, of Portsmouth, lead the movement to have Reed's name removed from the ballot. He said the experience reported on Reed's petition for candidacy, in relation to 311.01B(9)(a) of the Ohio Revised Code, is insufficient. Craig's attorney, George Davis, argued on his client's behalf because the experience was insufficient, Reed's name should be removed from the ballot.
According to the code in question, a candidate must have at least two years of supervisory experience as a peace officer at the rank of corporal or above, or have been appointed pursuant to section 5503.01 of the ORC and served at the rank of sergeant or above, in the five-year period ending immediately prior to the qualification date.
At the core of this hearing was the interpretation of that code, and the definition of the term "peace officer" versus "police officer."
Reed has been an officer with the New Boston Police since 2003, commissioned by the village and recognized as a peace officer. During that time, he also held a private investigator's license in Cincinnati, where he was a CEO and chief of a privately owned police force. Craig's protest against Reed alleges that because Reed was not commissioned in Cincinnati, and because his police force was privately owned, Reed was not a qualifying peace officer, and cannot count that experience toward his supervisory requirements.
The BOE heard testimony from both Craig and Reed, as well as witnesses for both sides. By the end of the proceedings, the BOE decided to allow Reed's experience, saying they chose to interpret the code liberally as they've done for similar protests filed in both the 2000 and 2004 elections for sheriff.
The board voted 3-to-1 in favor of denying Craig's protest and allowing Reed to appear on the ballot in the March primary.
"Obviously I'm pleased. I felt it would go that way. It's the election board's job to try to bring qualified candidates to the voters, not to disqualify people. They obviously work hard to give the voters an option on who they want to be the sheriff," Reed said.
He said that had the outcome gone the other way, he didn't believe he would have filed an appeal, re-asserting the authority of the BOE.
"I was encouraged last week to file, or have someone file on my behalf, to protest against Marty Donini as Marty filed his petition late and incorrectly. My view on that then ... I encourage people not to file a protest on his candidacy. Because the elections board reviewed it, and they felt confident that they should allow it," Reed said.
Reed said he would not want to take office wondering if he only received it on a technicality, or if voters really wanted him for the job.
Davis declined to comment on the outcome, saying only, "My client is weighing what the alternatives might be."
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.