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Stories about Ohio

Filing period to close Feb. 3 for municipal elections in two Ohio cities

The candidate filing deadline to run for elected office in Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, is on February 3, 2021. Prospective candidates in Columbus may file for the following municipal and school district offices:

  • City attorney
  • City auditor
  • City council (3 seats)
  • Columbus City Schools Board of Education (3 seats)

In Cleveland, prospective candidates may file for the following municipal offices:

  • Mayor
  • City council (17 seats)
  • Municipal court judge

The primary elections are scheduled for May 4, and the general elections are scheduled for November 2.

Columbus and Cleveland are the first- and second-largest cities in Ohio, respectively. Columbus is the 16th-largest city in the United States by population, and Cleveland is the 48th-largest. The Columbus City Schools district is the largest school district in Ohio; it served 50,219 students as of the 2017-2018 school year.

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Judith French appointed Ohio Director of Insurance

Director of Insurance Judith French (R) was appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Jan. 19, to succeed interim director Tynesia Dorsey. 

The director is a cabinet-level executive position in the Ohio state government and the chief officer of the Department of Insurance. The director is responsible for ensuring the laws and regulations related to insurance are enforced across the state.

Prior to her appointment, French served on the Ohio Supreme Court from 2013 to 2021. She was first appointed to the court by Gov. John Kasich (R). She ran for re-election to the seat and was defeated in the general election on Nov. 3 by Jennifer L. Brunner (D).

The office of insurance commissioner is nonpartisan in 38 states. The 12 states in which the position is partisan include the 11 states where the insurance commissioner is elected, as well as Ohio. Of the 12 states where the insurance commissioner has a partisan affiliation, the office is held by a Democrat in three and a Republican in nine.



No initiative campaigns submitted signatures by Dec. 25 deadline in Ohio

No initiative campaigns submitted signatures in Ohio on the Dec. 25 deadline. In Ohio, initiated statutes are indirect, requiring 132,887 signatures in 2021 to go before the Ohio State Legislature. If enough signatures are submitted, the legislature has the option to approve an initiative without a vote of electors. If the state legislature does not adopt an indirect initiative, the initiated statute becomes direct, requiring an additional 132,887 signatures (for a grand total of 265,774) to go before voters in 2021.

The signature deadline was 10 days before the Ohio State Legislature will convene on January 4, 2021.

Ohioans for Gun Safety, which sponsored the Ohio Background Checks for Firearm Purchases Initiative, announced in December 2019 that it would target the 2021 ballot instead of the 2020 ballot. Dennis Willard, a spokesperson for Ohioans for Gun Safety, said, “We think that 2021 gives us the best opportunity to have a clear and simple and straight forward conversation with Ohio voters that background checks for gun safety will save lives and reduce gun violence.” The initiative would have required that an unlicensed person wishing to sell or transfer a firearm to another person to conduct the transfer through a licensed gun dealer running a background check. The campaign did not submit signatures by the deadline.

Between 1995 and 2020,  45 measures appeared on statewide ballots in Ohio. Voters approved 53.3% (24 of 45) and rejected 46.7% (21 of 45) of the statewide ballot measures.

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Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder wins re-election

Incumbent Larry Householder (R) defeated four write-in candidates—Marci McCaulay (D), Jay Conrad (R), Robert Leist (L), and Kaitlyn Clark (I)—in the general election for Ohio’s House of Representatives District 72. Householder ran unopposed in the April 28 Republican primary.

On July 21, 2020, after the filing deadline for additional candidates to appear on the ballot, Householder was arrested and charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering scheme. He was accused of collecting more than $60 million in exchange for legislation that would bail out two nuclear plants in Ohio. The bailout was valued at $1.5 billion.

At the time of his arrest, Householder had been serving as Speaker of the House since 2019 when he defeated sitting House Speaker Ryan Smith (R). The House removed him from the position by a 90-0 vote on July 30.

In response to his arrest, on Sept. 1, Householder said, “[I]n the United States, we believe that you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty. And that day has not occurred … And so, I am innocent. I am going to defend myself vigorously.” Householder entered a plea of not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Bowman on Sept. 3.

Householder previously served in the House from 1997 to 2004, including a tenure as Speaker of the House from 2001 to 2004. He returned to the House representing District 72 in 2016 and won re-election in 2018.



Steve Chabot wins re-election to the U.S. House

Incumbent Steve Chabot (R) defeated Kate Schroder (D) and Kevin Kahn (L) in the general election for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District. Chabot was first elected in 1994 and won re-election in every year since, other than 2008. He last won election in 2018, defeating Aftab Pureval 51.3% to 46.9%.

Both parties’ Hill committees targeted the 1st District this year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) included Schroder on its list of Red to Blue candidates, while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) placed Chabot in its Patriot Program. The two groups spent a combined $5 million in the district.



U.S. Senate confirms Newman to federal district court judgeship

The U.S. Senate confirmed Michael Newman to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio by a 67-30 vote on October 22, 2020. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio is one of 94 U.S. District Courts. They are the general trial courts of the United States federal courts.

After Newman receives his federal judicial commission and takes his judicial oath, the eight-member court will have five Republican-appointed judges and three Democrat-appointed judges. Newman will join three other judges appointed by President Trump.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed 219 of President Trump’s Article III judicial nominees—two Supreme Court justices, 53 appellate court judges, 162 district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges—since January 2017.

Newman was a federal magistrate judge for the Southern District of Ohio from 2011 to 2020. Before that, he worked in private practice and as a law clerk to the Southern District of Ohio’s Magistrate Judge Jack Sherman and to U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit Judge Nathaniel Jones. Newman earned his bachelor of fine arts degree from New York University in 1982, and his J.D., cum laude, from American University’s Washington College of Law in 1989.

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Four temporary city council members selected in Toledo, Ohio 

On Sept. 18, Lucas County Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger selected John Hobbs III, Vanice Williams, Tiffany Preston Whitman, and Cerssandra McPherson to fill vacancies on the Toledo City Council. Each will hold their position in a temporary capacity while legal proceedings continue for four previous council members.

On July 21, council members Tyrone Riley, Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes, and Gary Johnson were suspended from office after being charged with bribery, extortion, and conspiracy. According to an FBI investigation, the four members are alleged to have accepted $34,000 in bribes in return for votes on zoning requests. All four voluntarily stepped down from their council positions in July.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) stated: “Until allegations of public corruption are resolved in court, a suspension is the proper remedy to balance the accused’s right of a presumption of innocence with the public’s interest to have a functioning city council.”

Hobbs, Williams, Whitman, and McPherson assumed office on Sept. 22. Though the position is non-partisan, the Toledo Blade identified all four as Democrats. Each council member will hold their position in a temporary capacity until their predecessor’s term ends or until the suspended council member resigns or is found innocent.

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Former Ohio secretary of state challenges Justice Judith French for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court 

Incumbent Judith French and Jennifer L. Brunner are running in the general election for Ohio Supreme Court on November 3, 2020.

Justice French was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court by Gov. John Kasich (R). She assumed office on January 1, 2013. She advanced from the Republican primary for Ohio Supreme Court on April 28, 2020. Her previous political experience includes serving as chief legal council for Gov. Bob Taft (R) from 2002 through 2004 and as assistant attorney general to Betty Montgomery (R) from 1997 through 2002.

Brunner advanced from the Democratic primary for Ohio Supreme Court on April 28, 2020. She served as Ohio secretary of state from 2007 until 2011 and was elected to the 10th District Court of Appeals in 2014.

Two justices of the Ohio Supreme Court face re-election this year. In addition to Justice French, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy will stand for re-election. Justice Kennedy advanced from the Republican primary for Ohio Supreme Court on April 28, 2020.

Two justices currently on the Ohio Supreme Court have advanced from Democratic primaries to win the general election, and five justices on the Ohio Supreme Court have advanced from Republican primaries to win the general election. If both incumbents are defeated in the November general election, the court will have a majority of justices who have advanced from Democratic primaries.

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Householder removed as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives

Amid an ongoing federal investigation, the Ohio House of Representatives voted unanimously on July 30 to remove Rep. Larry Householder (R) from his leadership position as house speaker. State representatives introduced the motion for removal shortly after a federal grand jury indicted Householder on racketeering charges.

The House voted 55-38 that same day to select Bob Cupp (R) as the new speaker. House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes issued a statement that indicated no members of the Democratic Caucus voted for Cupp. In his address to the chamber, Cupp said, “It is a great privilege to lead this chamber. Sorry it is in such difficult and trying and unprecedented times as this, however, but I pledge to do so honorably and fairly and humbly.”

Both Householder and Cupp are running for re-election this year. Householder advanced unopposed from the April 28 Republican primary in District 72 and is running unopposed in the general election on November 3. Cupp ran unopposed in the District 4 Republican primary and faces Libertarian candidate Christina Marie Holloway in the general election.

Householder, along with four others, was arrested on July 21 and charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering scheme. Householder was accused of collecting more than $60 million in exchange for legislation that would bail out two nuclear plants.

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Three Toledo City Council members suspended pending federal investigation

On July 22, three of the four Toledo City Council members currently under investigation on federal charges of bribery, extortion, and conspiracy voluntarily suspended their positions. Yvonne Harper, Tyrone Riley, and Larry Sykes agreed to the suspension after Attorney General of Ohio Dave Yost (R) filed a request for suspension proceedings. They did not resign from their positions; temporary replacements that have yet to be appointed will fulfill the duties of their offices during the investigation. The fourth councilmember under investigation, Gary Johnson, continued to serve in his capacity as a councilmember as of July 23.
Harper, Johnson, Riley, and Sykes were arrested on June 30 on charges of bribery and extortion. The charges resulted from a two-year investigation begun by the FBI in 2016, and alleged that the four officials accepted $34,000 in bribes among them. On July 21, a grand jury indicted the councilmembers, along with attorney Keith Mitchell, on additional charges of extortion and conspiracy.
Probate judge Jack R. Puffenberger will appoint replacements for Harper, Riley, and Sykes to serve on the city council in a temporary capacity for the duration of the investigation.
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