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The candidacies of two people running for at-large seats on Kent City Council as independents have been challenged. If the county elections board upholds the challenge, the race for council could be over.
In a letter to the Portage County Board of Elections, Fred M. Mendiola of Carthage Avenue protested the candidacies of Scott J. Flynn and Doria Daniels who had filed petitions as unaffiliated candidates for the November general election.
Mendiola, a member of the Portage County Democratic Party Central Committee in Kent, said Flynn "is and has been affiliated with the Democratic Party." Mendiola also said Daniels is affiliated with the Republican Party, "and for that reason also fails to qualify as truly 'independent' under Ohio Law."
Elections board records confirm that Flynn voted in the Democratic primaries and special elections in both 2012 and 2013 and that Daniels voted in Republican primaries in 2012 and 2010.
Council appointed Flynn in November to fill an at-large seat left vacant when Councilman Robin Turner resigned.
"This is news to me," Flynn said of the challenge.
While he has voted in Democratic primaries, Flynn said "I have never been affiliated with the Democratic party, I have always been an independent." He said he listed himself as such when he applied to fill a vacancy on Kent council in February and again last November.
He voted in a Democratic primary just this past May. When he turned in his petitions to file as an independent, Flynn said he was asked by elections staff if he wanted to vote early. "I said 'Sure.' They asked me which ballot I wanted and I said 'I'll take the Democrat ballot,'" Flynn said. "Maybe I didn't give it any thought. If it was a problem, they didn't alert me."
Flynn said if voting the Democratic ballot in the primary was a mistake, "it was an innocent mistake. I've always been an independent." Flynn said he's probably voted in Republican primaries in the past. "I've never held myself out as being either a Democrat or a Republican."
A message seeking comment was left for Daniels.
The county elections board scheduled hearings on the protests for Monday, starting at 8 a.m. with Flynn followed by Daniels at 8:45 a.m.
With three at-large council seats at issue, the election could be over if Flynn and Daniels are kept off the ballot. No Republicans filed for the seats, and three Democrats from the May 7 primary are already headed to the ballot. Council incumbents Mike DeLeone and Roger Sidoti and city planning commission member Melissa Long were the top vote-getters out of four Democrats in the primary. Former councilman Robin Turner finished out of the running.
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