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After Court Ruling, Ohio County GOP Votes To Seat Dolph Santorine on Executive Committee

SANTORINE

WHEELING — Ohio County resident Dolph Santorine now has a seat on the Ohio County Republican Executive Committee if he chooses to take it.

Ohio County Circuit Judge David Sims has issued a follow-up ruling to the one he issued Tuesday indicating that Santorine lives in Magisterial District 2, and was solidly elected to the County GOP committee to represent District 2.

The new ruling discovered Thursday by attorneys in the case further directs the Ohio County Republican Executive Committee to immediately seat Santorine.

Secondly, it also nullifies all actions by the committee taken since July 1 – the start of the new term for the committee – without Santorine seated as a board member.

West Virginia GOP Chairwoman Elgine McArdle, also chairwoman of the Ohio County Republican Party, said the second part of the ruling creates a bit of an issue.

“The problem is the executive committee cannot seat him without having a meeting (and voting to seat him),” McArdle said. “How are we supposed to do anything when everything we do past July 1 (without Santorine) is null and void?”

Santorine was the top vote-getter among candidates seeking a District 2-Male seat on board in the May 10 election. But it was discovered on Election Day that new election maps had moved his home and others in his Falls Road neighborhood to District 1, though the action was never approved by Ohio County commissioners.

County commissioners have since officially certified the results of the election, making Santorine the winner in District 2.

The County GOP Execuitve Committee had a private meeting scheduled Thursday night. During the meeting, District 1 member Robert Luchetti resigned to create a spot there for Santorine on the committee following Sims’ follow-up ruling.

The committee then took action – whether legal or not – to appoint Santorine to the spot, McArdle said.

“We still contest he is in Magisterial District 2,” she explained. “We recognize the court made a finding that he was elected in District 2. But he was only placed by residence into District 2 after the election.

“It is our position that the state put him in District 1, the commission put him in District 1 for the election and the commission needs to put him back in District 1.”

Santorine had not heard about Sims’ follow-up ruling as of late Thursday night, and did not know of the GOP executive committee’s subsequent action to seat him in District 1.

He said he need time to consider the situation and “see what is going on” before speaking on the subject.

“I still wish to serve, or I wouldn’t have started this process in the first place,” Santorine said. “I want to review this further before making any comments.”

McArdle said she plans to send Santorine a congratulatory letter telling him he is now a member of the board.

“If Dolph insists on placing himself in District 2, that becomes stupid at that point,” she continued. “He is on the committee. He can vote. Period.”

The Ohio County Republican Executive Committee is next set to meet at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in South Wheeling.

At that time, McArdle expects to resign as county chair to focus on her new role as leader of the WVGOP. Applications from those interested in serving in the position will be accepted after that time, she said.

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