CANTON: Former Stark County Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to remove his successor from office.
In a suit filed Tuesday, Swanson said recently chosen Sheriff George Maier does not meet experience and educational requirements specified in state law.
Maier was selected by an eight-vote margin Feb. 5 in an election by precinct committeemen meeting as the Stark Democratic Central Committee.
He replaced Swanson, whom county commissioners had appointed as interim sheriff after Michael McDonald, who was elected in November, said he could not take office for health reasons.
Maier has said his qualifications exceed those specified in state law. He last worked as Massillon safety-service director, a civilian position in which he supervised police and fire departments.
His career includes service as a State Highway Patrol trooper and commander, and serving as assistant director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
In Swanson’s complaint to the court, attorneys Gregory Beck and James Mathews wrote that Maier did not have a valid peace officer training certificate within the last four years, nor did he work for the previous three years as a full-time police officer.
They also wrote he did not have the required recent supervisory experience as a ranking officer, or the alternative requirement of two years of college.
Outside legal counsel likely will be hired to represent Maier.
Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero filed an affidavit in Swanson’s case, saying he cannot represent either “duly appointed and qualified interim Sheriff” Swanson or “presumptive Sheriff George Maier.”
Ferrero wrote that Maier is not qualified. He objected to his selection by Democrats. Several of his staff attorneys are also Democratic precinct committee representatives who may not represent either sheriff in court due to their status as potential witnesses.
County commissioners will consider the appointment of legal counsel for Maier when they meet at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Maier might find himself serving in an office without the benefits normally bestowed on employees, such as paychecks, insurance and communications devices.
County Auditor Alan Harold said in a prepared statement Wednesday that “it would be inappropriate for this office to recognize Mr. Maier’s appointment until the conclusion of this matter by the Ohio Supreme Court.”
Harold recalled the difficulty that arose in 2011 with former county Treasurer Gary Zeigler, whom commissioners fired following an embezzlement by one of his employees.
Zeigler subsequently was reinstated by the state high court but eventually resigned.
In Zeigler’s case, Harold declined to give him telephone or computer access after he returned to his office without first being bonded.
Nancy Molnar can be reached at email@example.com.