By Phil Trexler
Beacon Journal staff writer
Darrita Davis, an independent candidate for Akron City Council, has been ordered back on the Nov. 5 ballot by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Friday’s 4-3 ruling allows Davis to run against Ward 10 Councilman Garry Moneypenny, a Democrat, and Republican Harry Jenkins.
“I am excited. I am thrilled. I am grateful,” Davis said Friday. “I can say this restores my faith in the justice system.”
The Supreme Court justices granted Davis’s motion to be placed back on the ballot. Davis was removed from the ballot last month when the Summit County Board of Elections found in a 4-0 bipartisan decision she was a Democrat and not an independent.
Warner Mendenhall, an Akron attorney representing Davis, said in the complaint that voting history alone isn’t a “basis to disqualify her as an independent candidate.”
The Supreme Court agreed, saying the board was wrong for basing its ruling strictly on her voting as a Democrat in the March 2012 primary.
“A candidate’s prior voting history, standing alone, cannot be a sufficient basis for disqualifying an independent candidate,” the court wrote. “Disaffiliation by definition presumes a history of support for or membership in a political party. If a candidate’s prior voting record, standing alone, could trump a declaration of disaffiliation, then disaffiliation would never be possible.”
Mendenhall said the decision should help candidates in the future who want to run as an independent.
“This has implication throughout the state of Ohio and really clears up the issue of how to run as an independent candidate,” he said. “It makes it easy for boards and candidates to understand.”
Because the ballots have already been printed, the elections board will reprint 8,180 ballots for Ward 10 at a cost of 22 cents per ballot, plus labor costs at the board.
In addition, about 288 absentee ballots must be amended to reflect Davis’ candidacy, said Joe Masich, elections board chief.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.