ONTARIO -- Can a public school teacher or a firefighter serve on city council?
Members of the Republican Central Committee aren't sure, which caused a delay in the appointment of two Ontario city council members Tuesday.
The committee had set a meeting last night to appoint replacements for two vacant seats -- Ontario's Third Ward council member and Council member At-Large. No appointments were made, however, due to a last-minute legal conundrum.
Ontario city law director Andrew Medwid contacted Zoi Romanchuk, head of the appointment committee, late Tuesday afternoon to inform her that a provision in the Ohio Revised Code may invalidate applicants for both seats.
In the chapter 705.12 of the Ohio Revised Code, it states that members of the legislative authority of a municipal corporation "shall not hold any other public office or employment." The only exceptions listed in the code are notary publics, state militia members and party officials.
Bob Entenmann, chair of the Republic Central Committee, said he'd never heard of the rule before. Since the code doesn't contain a specific definition of what constitutes "public office or employment," members of the committee have decided to delay appointments until they can get further clarification from either the Richland County Prosecutor or Ohio's Attorney General.
Two applicants may not meet the qualifications for office depending on how the law is interpreted -- Kris Knapp, a Third Ward resident and teacher at Ontario City Schools, and Joshua Bradley, a Springfield Township firefighter.
If Knapp is deemed not qualified due to his employment with the school district, there will be no qualified candidates for the Third Ward seat. The only other applicant, Troy Sapp, cannot be appointed to a Republican-held seat because he was not registered as a Republican in the last two primary elections. Entenmann noted that Sapp was registered as a Republican in 2016.
Bradley was one of three applicants for the at-large seat. The others were Michael Thoma and David J Rehfeldt.
Party officials are hoping to get legal clarification as soon as possible. A new date for the appointments has not been set.
"It's probably going to be at least a week (before we make the appointments), because we have to have it posted at the board of elections for five days before we can meet," Entenmann explained.