Councilman Mele Hopes for Quick Resolution

BENWOOD – Benwood Councilman Curtis Mele believes council should appoint him to a full four-year term after city officials did not place his name on the May 13 ballot.

Mele, who represents Benwood’s 1st Ward, was one of four council members filing for re-election this year. But it was the name of fellow 1st Ward Councilman Chuck Terry whose name was placed on the ballot. The mistake wasn’t caught prior to the election.

“There definitely was a mistake – one that shouldn’t have been made,” Mele said. “There were five total names on the ballot (including that of Police Chief Frank Longwell), and all five names were running unopposed.

Mele said the ballot was sent to the county clerk’s office by City Clerk Judy Hunt, then sent back for final approval.

“It was proofed for a second, maybe third time,” he said. “It was unexcusable in my opinion.”

Mele has retained legal counsel to make certain the issue is legally resolved. Council is next scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and Mele hopes hopes the matter will be addressed at this time.

“The only resolution to this is for me to be appointed to a full four-year term,” he said. “But I was running unopposed – it shouldn’t have even come to this. Appointing me to a two-year term keeps being brought up since there is nothing in the city charter dealing with problem. I would have to run for re-election in two years – and that is not an option. I should be able to be appointed to a four-year term.”

Mele paid a $35 filing fee in January to get his name on the May 13 ballot. Council members receive $140 a month during the time they are in office. Mele’s term expires at the end of June, and the new council takes office when Benwood City Council meets July 15.

“Someone should be held accountable,” he said. “I filed on time. I paid the filing fee. My name shouldn’t have been left off the ballot. I did everything I had to do.”

Mele said if there is no quorum for Tuesday’s council meeting, he will call for a special meeting.