CANTON: Stark County Auditor Alan Harold has reversed his decision not to pay new Sheriff George Maier.
Harold had announced earlier this week that he wouldn’t pay Maier because of an ongoing lawsuit challenging his credentials. But, based on a written opinion from state Auditor Dave Yost, Harold changed his mind.
Yost wrote that he would take the position that Maier is “operating under the color of law until the court rules on his qualifications.”
Yost said his office will not make anyone reimburse the county for money paid to the sheriff or his deputies during the challenge to Maier’s qualifications.
Timothy Swanson, the former sheriff, is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to remove Maier from office on grounds that he does not meet requirements in state law for recent police service or training. His action also asks the court to place him in the office.
Maier was appointed by the Stark County Democratic Party’s Central Committee on Feb. 5 to fill a vacancy created by the inability of Swanson’s would-be successor, Michael McDonald, to hold office.
Swanson served as interim sheriff for about a month between McDonald’s resignation and Maier’s appointment.
Maier is a former Massillon safety-service director, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, former State Highway Patrol trooper and 1991 Trooper of the Year.
On Thursday, his attorneys asked the state’s high court to dismiss Swanson’s suit on grounds that he lacks legal standing to seek Maier’s removal.
Thomas Rosenberg and Michael Traven of Columbus wrote that Swanson may not seek to have the court order him to replace Maier because Swanson did not seek election in November. They also said Swanson’s appointment as interim sheriff ended with the Democrats’ selection of a replacement.
The credentials of Maier and two other candidates for the position were examined and approved by Stark County Common Pleas Administrative Judge Frank Forchione before the Democratic vote.