The State ex rel. Coughlin
Summit County Board of Elections.
Submitted August 30, 2013
Donald S. Varian Jr., for relator.
Sherry Bevan Walsh, Summit County Prosecuting Attorney, John F. Galonski, Deputy Chief, Civil Division, and Joseph M. Fantozzi, Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for respondent.
(¶ 1} This is an expedited election action by relator, Kevin J. Coughlin, for a writ of mandamus to compel respondent, the Summit County Board of Elections, to place his name on the November 5, 2013 ballot as a candidate for Stow Municipal Court clerk of courts. Because the board disregarded clearly established law by refusing to place Coughlin's name on the ballot, we grant the writ.
(¶ 2} On May 6, 2013, one day before the primary, Coughlin filed a nominating petition to run for the office of clerk of courts for the Stow Municipal Court in the November 5, 2013 general election. The parties agree that Coughlin is a qualified elector and satisfies the statutory requirements to run for the Stow Municipal Court clerkship.
(¶ 3} On July 11, 2013, an elector named Donald Nelsch filed a protest against Coughlin's nominating petition. The protest letter challenged Coughlin's ability to run as either a nonpartisan or independent candidate by setting out Coughlin's long history of association with the Republican Party. The letter alleged that Coughlin had taken no steps to disaffiliate from the Republican Party before submitting his nominating petition.
(¶ 4} Coughlin responded in writing and at the board's July 15, 2013 protest hearing. Coughlin argued that he was running as a nonpartisan candidate, not an independent candidate, and that the requirement of disaffiliation applies only to independent candidates.
(¶ 5} At the close of the hearing, the board voted unanimously to sustain the protest and deny Coughlin's petition.
(¶ 6} Coughlin commenced this expedited election action for writ of mandamus on August 8, 2013, to compel the board to place his name on the general election nonpartisan ballot. The board has filed an answer, and the parties have filed briefs under the accelerated schedule in S.Ct.Prac.R. 12.08(A).
(¶ 7} This cause is now before the court for consideration of the merits.