‘Home Rule’ petition dies in commissioners’ meeting

POMEROY — The Meigs County Commissioners, during a Tuesday special meeting, took no action regarding the petition initiative from the Meigs County Home Rule Committee.

The first line of the petition reads: “We, the people of the County of Meigs, by this Charter secure the right of all County residents to participate in local government, which right is presently unavailable to residents under the statutory form of County government.”

Committee members dropped off a copy of the charter at the Commissioners’ office April 30.”

According to Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith, the motion died during Tuesday’s meeting because the Board of Elections was to provide the commissioners a certification of both the signatures and a certification of the validity of the petition itself, along with a report. This information was to be delivered to the commissioners no later than 120 days before the general election, which would’ve been July 6. Smith said that on July 2, the commissioners received a letter from Director Becky Johnston and Deputy Director Meghan Lee. The letter told the commissioners that the petition had been filed with the Meigs County Board of Elections on June 24, and that at least 567 signatures (the minimum required amount) on the petition were valid.

However, according to Ohio Revised Code 307.95, the Board of Elections, and not the deputy director and director, must send the certifications and report to the commissioners. Smith said a letter was sent back the same day, July 2, to inform the Board of Elections of this.

According to the commissioners and the Meigs County Home Rule Committee, the Board of Elections had a special meeting July 13 and sent the commissioners the certifications and report the same day. From there, the commissioners had until July 15 at 4 p.m. to either pass a resolution for the petition or not. During their 11 a.m. July 14 meeting, the motion died for lack of a second because the Board of Elections turned in their certifications and report and to the commissioners a week after it was due, which would have been July 6, 120 days before the general election, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

“We have no choice,” Smith said. “If it had been done within the time frame, then passing (the initiative petition) would’ve been inevitable. We made no motion because of the time frame.”

Board of Elections representatives and members of the Meigs County Home Rule Committee could not be reached for comment by press time.

Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.