CANTON: The Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association has filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting appointed Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier in a suit former sheriff Timothy A. Swanson filed against him.
Swanson contends Maier does not have the proper qualifications to hold the office under state law and seeks to be reinstated to the position.
In a brief filed Friday, the attorney for the sheriffs’ association notes that the group actively promoted the legislation that is the basis of Swanson’s complaint.
“It is the position of the Association that [Maier] is qualified and should continue service as sheriff of Stark County, Ohio,” wrote Robert L. Berry, the attorney for the sheriffs’ association.
Central to the dispute is whether Maier’s recent work as a civilian supervisor of safety forces meets the statutory requirement for experience, or as Swanson contends, that experience must be as a uniformed police officer.
Berry wrote that Maier’s experience as assistant and interim director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety required that he supervise and direct various law enforcement agencies.
“Further, while serving as Director of Safety and Service for the City of Massillon, Ohio, [Maier’s] job description provided that he was responsible for the overall safe, efficient, and economical operation of the Departments of Police, Fire, and Streets, Parks and Cemeteries,” Berry wrote. “These are all supervisory positions and the Association submits that [Maier] clearly meets the qualification requirements set forth in [state law].”
In Swanson’s complaint to the court, his attorneys cited the same law in saying that Maier is not qualified because he had not functioned as a full-time peace officer in the past three or four years.
“Whatever duties he has performed since retiring from employment with the Ohio Highway Patrol did not relate to the enforcement of statutes, ordinances or codes,” lawyers Gregory A. Beck and James F. Mathews wrote.
Stark County Democrats appointed Maier on Feb. 5 to replace sheriff-elect Michael McDonald, who had been elected in November but was unable to take office due to illness. He died Feb. 22.
County commissioners appointed Swanson on Jan. 4 to replace McDonald on an interim basis until Democratic precinct committeemen could meet to select a qualified replacement.
The election meeting was contentious, with Swanson backing a longtime member of his staff and others backing Maier, who was Massillon’s safety director at the time.
Nancy Molnar can be reached at email@example.com.