Councilman Mele To Contest Results

BENWOOD – Benwood Councilman Curtis Mele will officially contest the results of the May 13 election in which his name was left off the ballot, clearing the way for Mayor Ed Kuca to call a special meeting where other council members will consider his appeal.

Mele is expected to file his contest today with the Benwood City Clerk’s Office. The office was responsible for omitting Mele’s name in the race for the 1st Ward council seat, instead placing the name of fellow 1st Ward Councilman Chuck Terry on the ballot. Terry’s seat was not up in 2014.

Council met for about an hour in executive session Tuesday night to discuss the matter.

“We couldn’t address the issue tonight,” said City Solicitor Eric Gordon. Mele “first needs to file a contest, and he has not done that yet. … He couldn’t do that until the results of the election were certified, and that wasn’t done until late last week. I expect he will be doing that (today). Once he files his contest, the mayor will call a special meeting to consider the contest.”

At least some council members indicated they will declare Mele a winner of the election at the special meeting, and he would be able to be sworn in for a four-year term when council meets July 8.

In addition to Mele, three other council members were up for election in the May 13 election. Others included Larry Ferrera III in the 2nd Ward; Water Yates in the 3rd Ward; and Robert Rose in the 4th Ward. All four men filed for re-election and were running unopposed.

Terry discovered the ballot error when he voted May 13, and he reported it to officials.

Terry and three other members of council have terms that extend through spring 2016, including John Kazemka in the 2nd Ward; Lori Longwell in the 3rd Ward; and Carl Richter in the 4th Ward.