By Stephanie Warsmith
Beacon Journal staff writer
Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff voted Thursday to hire the former Ohio secretary of state who once ousted him from the elections board to serve as an elections expert to the board.
Arshinkoff and the board’s three other members unanimously decided to have Jennifer Brunner advise them in a lawsuit that former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin has filed. The case challenges the board’s decision to deny Coughlin ballot access to run as a nonpartisan for Stow Municipal Court clerk.
Brunner, a Democrat, has a long history with the elections board, including a decision in 2008 not to reappoint Arshinkoff to the board when she was secretary of state. This happened during a failed attempt, led by Coughlin, to oust Arshinkoff as county party chairman.
Arshinkoff was returned to the board in 2011 by Secretary of State Jon Husted, a fellow Republican.
“Politics is a funny business,” Arshinkoff said Thursday.
“She does have experience in it,” he added.
Board members said they needed an attorney who specialized in election matters to assist the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, which is the board’s legal counsel. Coughlin’s suit was filed in the Ohio Supreme Court as an expedited election matter, which brings with it short deadlines for the filing of briefs and responses.
“We thought, ‘Let’s get someone who has been dealing in election cases to give us some advice,’ ” said Tim Gorbach, the board’s Democratic chairman.
Brunner couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.
The prosecutor’s office was served this week with Coughlin’s complaint and has until Monday to respond.
Coughlin contends he should be able to run nonpartisan under the law that permitted Stow Judge Kim Hoover to run nonpartisan for his seat in the Nov. 5 election. The elections board has certified Hoover’s candidacy.
The elections board, however, says the law and rules are different for clerk candidates than they are for judicial candidates.
In yet another twist, Coughlin is being represented by Akron attorney Don Varian, who Brunner appointed to replace Arshinkoff on the board. Varian was removed and replaced by the party’s chosen candidate, Brian Daley, after the county GOP filed a successful challenge in the Ohio Supreme Court.
Arshinkoff replaced Daley and rejoined the board in July 2011 after Daley became a regional liaison for Husted.
Varian said Thursday that Brunner is “a very capable person.”
“I hope she will be able to give them some advice on election laws related to this and allow them to resolve the matter,” he said.