POMEROY — The attorney for Commissioner Write-in Candidate Moe Hajivandi has responded to a letter which called into question a potential Ohio Revised Code violation relating to Hajivandi’s 2016 legal name change.
In his response letter to Prosecutor James K. Stanley, Attorney Robert Bright explains his interpretation of the ORC related to the change of name.
ORC 3513.271 states, “If any person desiring to become a candidate for public office has had a change of name within five years immediately preceding the filing of his statement of candidacy, both his statement of candidacy and nominating petition must contain, immediately following the person’s present name, the person’s former names.”
While Stanley, in his letter, stated that his interpretation is that the law applies to “any person desiring to become a candidate,” Bright disagrees.
“Based on my research, there is another interpretation that I believe to be more accurate. …. First, Chapter 3513 of the Ohio Revised Code is titled, ‘PRIMARIES, NOMINATIONS’. The focus and application of the chapter is primary elections and nominations, not general elections,” wrote Bright. “Moe’s Declaration of Intent to be a Write-In Candidate was (timely) filed well after the primary and his intent was to be a write-in candidate for the general election, not the primary election.”
Given that, Bright states he believes the ORC section does not apply to Hajivandi’s current situation.
He cites a different section of ORC 3513 which specifically includes write-in candidate declarations, later stating that if ORC 3513.271 was to apply to write-in candidates it would have listed that.
“It is highly unlikely that the legislature mistakenly left out declarations of intent to be a write-in candidate from ORC 3513.271 when the legislature included those same declarations of intent to be a write-in candidate in another section in the same chapter. The omission of declarations or intent to be a write-in candidate from the text of ORC 3513.271 was almost certainly intentional,” wrote Bright.
Asked about the letter from Bright, Stanley stated that it did not change his position or interpretation at this time, but he would be willing to sit down with Bright following the election should Hajivandi become the Commissioner-elect.
In a separate matter, Bright brought up Commissioner Tim Ihle, who is running for reelection, running under the name ‘Tim.’ Ihle’s name is Clay T. Ihle on his voter registration card, states Bright.
Bright explains that two years ago Hajivandi changed his name legally to the nickname he had been known by for several years, “Moe”. “That was his well-known and oft-used nickname, just as Clay T. Ihle’s nickname is apparently ‘Tim’.”
“Which creates a rather ironic situation: Mr. Hajivandi legally changed his given first name to his well-known nickname and some are protesting that he cannot be a candidate because he allegedly did not sufficiently inform people of the legal change — even though his name change is a matter of public record in a very small county. On the other hand, Mr. Ihle did not legally change his name to ‘Tim’, yet is able to run as ‘Tim Ihle’ without controversy,” wrote Bright.
Asked about the matter, Ihle told the Sentinel that he has always been told to list his name as he would like for it to appear on the ballot, which has always been “Tim Ihle”.
Ihle added that in the four times he has appeared on the ballot it has never been an issue to list his name as “Tim Ihle”, which is part of his legal name and not something that he has ever changed.
More on candidates Hajivandi and Ihle will appear in upcoming “Meet the Candidate” articles on both men.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.