By Allan Brown
The candidacy of a local attorney for the State House’s 94th District seat remains in limbo as members of both political parties have different takes on the situation.
A planned special meeting of the Athens County Board of Elections to discuss the potential candidacy of a local Democrat for an area Ohio House seat was cancelled Monday morning when not enough members showed up to vote on the proposal.
Because of the cancelled meeting, local attorney and Athens businesswoman Tanya Conrath’s candidacy for the state House of Representatives 94th District seat remains in question.
Voting in a 2-2 tie along party lines Wednesday, the Athens County Board of Elections’ members were to turn over to Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose Conrath’s request to be her party’s candidate in the November General Election race against incumbent Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville).
Conrath, an Athens attorney and businesswoman, was nominated August 14 by the Democratic committees in Athens, Meigs, Morgan and 4 townships in Washington County as a replacement for Rhyan Goodman, who won the party’s nomination for the House seat in the Aug. 2 primary election. Goodman withdrew his candidacy two weeks ago.
Both Goodman and Edwards ran unopposed in the primary election and were to face each other in the general election.
Conrath’s nomination was pending approval from the Athens County Board of Election. The resulting tie occurred as Democratic members, Kate McGuckin and Sky Pettey, voted in favor of the nomination and Republicans Aundrea Carpenter-Colvin and Gary Van Meter voted against the proposal. Neither GOP board member showed up for Monday’s special meeting.
Kathy Hecht, Athens County Democratic Central Committee chair, said that once the committee realized Goodman was not going to run, they contacted Conrath, who agreed to put her name on the ballot forms for each county represented in the 94th District.
Per state election procedures, the resulting tie vote from the county board would force its members to submit the request to LaRose’s office to break the tie.
Board members have 14 days from the vote to file the paperwork to LaRose’s office. Athens County Board of Elections director Debra Quivey said Assistant Prosecutor Zach West will handle the case and file the paperwork.
West has not returned calls from the Athens News asking when the paperwork would officially be sent to LaRose’s office.
Quivey said late Monday afternoon that neither side has sent to her their responses, which are needed before the paperwork can be filed in Columbus.
In a possible way to avert sending the request to Columbus, Monday’s special board meeting was called late Friday afternoon.
The agenda for the planned session as listed on an official release submitted by the Board of Elections is for “Renewing and voting on the motion to Substitute Tanya Conrath as Democratic Candidate for Ohio 94th House of Representatives after the Official Canvass.”
That the meeting failed to reach a quorum, was disappointing to both Hecht and Conrath.
“I’m extremely disappointed that the Republican board representatives decided not to show up. It was a legitimate request for a board meeting to be held to vote on substituting Tanya Conrath on the ballot after certification of the ballots, which happened on Friday,” Hecht said.
As for Conrath, her comments released to the Athens Messenger Monday in an email echo what Hecht said.
“The two Republicans on the Board of Elections today brazenly showed their disdain for voters and their oath to uphold the Ohio Constitution. My supporters went out of their way to rearrange their Monday work schedules to attend the meeting, only to find out that the re-vote couldn’t be taken because the Republicans made a political calculation not to show. The cowardice is stunning,” Conrath said.
“How can you serve honorably on the Board of Elections and not be in support of fair and competitive elections? We will not be stopped. There is too much at stake. I’m running to protect the freedoms they are trying to take from us: the freedom to make choices about your body, your doctor, your family, the freedom to have your child educated instead of indoctrinated, and the freedom to have a choice in the voting booth. That’s Democracy with a capital “D,” and I’m more determined than ever to fight back against those in power trying to chip away at it.”
Edwards has not responded to numerous attempts for comment.
Speaking on behalf of both herself and Van Meter, Carpenter-Colvin said that the vote was not against Conrath, but was, instead, an attempt to uphold the law.
“We did not vote against anyone,” Carpenter-Colvin said. “We voted with the law. I’m not about keeping people off the ballot.
“Rhyan was the nominee on the primary ballot,” she continued. “Before we could certify (the primary results), he withdrew, so it’s a moot point. There’s no one to replace because he wasn’t certified. We are not in the business of keeping people off the ballot. Tanya doesn’t qualify.”
Carpenter-Colvin pointed to two sections of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) that she says address the subject of vacancies in party nominations.
Section 3513.31 of the ORC Code, states: “A vacancy in a party nomination that may be filled by a minor political party shall be filled in accordance with the party’s rules by authorized officials of the party. Certification must be made in the manner provided for a major political party.”
In the second reference to the ORC that Carpenter-Colvin pointed to in what lead to she and Van Meter making their vote, 3501.01 (K), it states “Party candidate” means any candidate who claims to be a member of a political party and who has been certified to appear on the office-type ballot at a general or special election as the nominee of a political party because the candidate has won the primary election of the candidate’s party for the public office the candidate seeks, has been nominated under section 3517.012, or is selected by party committee in accordance with section 3513.31 of the Revised Code.”
Carpenter-Colvin noted that neither she nor Van Meter felt Monday’s planned meeting would have changed anything “because what they wanted to discuss today was already done Wednesday. There was no reason to do it again.”
Responding to Carpenter-Colvin’s comments that first appeared in Tuesday’s edition of The Athens Messenger, Conrath told the Athens News Tuesday morning that she takes umbrage to Carpenter-Colvin’s statements.
“Her statement is gobbledygook. It’s clear she doesn’t understand the law. This is simple — if she had wanted me on the ballot, I would be on the ballot and the voters would have a choice in November. Her words say one thing but her actions say another,” Conrath said.