Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas and his attorneys filed a formal response to a court challenge of his eligibility for the office filed by Mark E. Landers on behalf of Dick Flanagan, who ran against Lucas in the November election.
In their filing with the the Ohio Supreme Court, Landers and the Democrat Flanagan allege that Lucas, a Republican, was not a qualified candidate for sheriff because: He did not serve as a full-time officer anytime after his retirement from the Belmont County Sheriff's Department on Oct. 31, 2007; he did not serve in a supervisor capacity during this time period; and Lucas owned a home in Florida but did not list it on his application for candidacy for sheriff and allegedly changed his residency to Florida.
Lucas, through his attorneys Christopher J. Gagin and Tracy Lancione Lloyd of Lancione, Lloyd and Hoffman filed a response with the Ohio Supreme Court last week.
"I have no desire to try this matter in the press," Lucas said in a statement accompanying his official response. "But for Dick Flanagan to allege that I was not a resident of the State of Ohio, and that I didn't pay Ohio income tax from 2007-2011, is ridiculous, and I am voluntarily producing my Ohio tax returns for those years to prove it."
Flanagan's challenge began with his request that the Belmont County Board of Elections declare Lucas ineligible. After the board denied that request, Flanagan filed suit with the high court.
"While we take this lawsuit seriously, we are stunned at Dick Flanagan's recklessness with the truth," Gagin said. "Sheriff Lucas' tax returns conclusively prove Flanagan's residency allegations are completely false. ... Likewise, the Department's firearm certification forms establish that the sheriff did indeed work full days as a supervisor and instructor during 2007-2011. Thus, the primary allegations of Dick Flanagan's allegations are false."
Lucas worked part-time as an officer with the Barnesville Police Department before getting hired full-time with the sheriff's office in 1981. He worked there for 26 years, eventually climbing to the rank of major before retiring.
Upon his retirement, he was immediately hired as a reserve officer with the department.
Included with Lucas' response are copies of firearms training certification paperwork that he signed off on between 2007 and 2011.
Landers has until March 8 to file a response with the court.
"There was a fair, hard-fought election last November that Dick Flanagan lost. It's now time for Mr. Flanagan to get over his loss," Gagin said. "We believe Mr. Flanagan should respect the will of the people, dismiss the lawsuit and allow Sheriff Lucas to do the job he was elected to do for the people of Belmont County - not because I say so, but because the people of Belmont County voted it so."
Lucas' response also alleges that Flanagan is not a qualified candidate. The response states: "At all times relevant, Relator was a classified employee with the Village of Bellaire, Ohio, serving as a lieutenant with the Bellaire Police Department. As such, existing federal and state election laws prohibited him from being a candidate for partisan political office."