2012-04-14 / News

Process set to select new Perry County Commissioner

By Scott Rawdon

NEW LEXINGTON – Following former Perry County Commissioner Lonnie Wood’s resignation from office and sentencing for sexual assault, Commissioners Fred Shriner and Ed Keister are left with a vacant commissioner’s position.

Ohio Secretary of State Deputy

Press Secretary Alexis Zoldan said generally speaking, when there is a vacancy in county office, the departed commissioner’s party (Wood is a Democrat) appoints someone to fill the vacancy until a successor is elected and qualified. If the unexpired term expires more than a year from the date of the next general election for county officers (even numbered years), there is an unexpired term election. However, if the unexpired term expires less than a year from the next general election for county officers, there is no unexpired term election and the appointed office holder serves the rest of the unexpired term.

“In this particular situation in Perry County, two things will occur,” said Zoldan. First, the Democratic party will appoint a person to fill the vacancy in the office of county commissioner until a successor is elected and qualified pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code.

Next, an unexpired term election for that successor will take place at the November 2012 general election. Wood’s term ends Dec. 31, 2014, which is more than a year from the November 2012 general election. Each political party has the ability to select a candidate to run for the unexpired term in accordance with those provisions. Also, any person seeking to run as an independent candidate for the unexpired term may file a nominating petition.

Perry County Prosecutor Joe Flautt said the remaining commissioners may fill the seat until the Democratic Central Committee fills the vacancy. He said the Democratic Central Committee will fill the vacancy until a successor is elected this November. Both the Democratic and Republican central committees have the option of placing a person on the ballot in the November 2012 election to fill the vacancy for the remainder of Wood’s term. The person elected, if different, will replace the person the Democratic Central Committee appoints.

Perry County Democratic Party Chairman Mike Boley said Monday that “There are names of people who are interested” in Wood’s position. However, he said the Perry County party has never faced a similar situation where an arrest has forced a commissioner to leave office, and replacing Wood will be accomplished carefully and methodically. “This is something new to all of us. We’re going to do the right thing by the letter of the law,” he said.

Shriner said Wednesday that he believes the Perry County Democratic party will appoint someone to fill Wood’s position for the rest of the year within two weeks.

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