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The Suburbanite
  • Ohio Elections Commission to hear North Canton complaints

  • The Ohio Elections Commission is expected to decide Monday whether two candidates for North Canton council falsely said in their campaign mailers that council members had given themselves a raise.
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  • The Ohio Elections Commission on Monday will hear complaints from City Council incumbents about reportedly false campaign mailers.
    Council President Jon Snyder, Ward 4, and Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling, At-Large, who are seeking re-election Tuesday, said their opponents' mail advertising incorrectly stated that they gave themselves a raise. A three-member panel of the commission determined Thursday there was enough evidence to proceed with a hearing.
    Snyder filed his complaint against Hillary Mueller, who is seeking Snyder's seat, and Kiesling filed her complaint against Jamie McCleaster, who with Kiesling is among the five candidates seeking three at-large city council seats.
    Snyder said his motivation for filing the complaint was to protect his reputation and hold candidates to the same standards as elected officials.
    "If you use false statements to further your own candidacy, that's wrong," he said.
    Council approved a pay raise in July for council members elected Tuesday that will take effect Dec. 1. Elected officials will receive an extra $2,400 a year, raising pay for the council president to $8,100 and for other council members to $7,200 a year.
    Kiesling said she, too, "just wanted to set the record the straight."
    Mueller and McCleaster, who plan to attend the Monday hearing, weren't backing down from their statements.
    "Jon Snyder is running for re-election, and will no doubt take full advantage of the pay raise for elected officials that he voted for if he is reelected to the office," Mueller said. "That was my point."
    McCleaster also stands by his mailer, which states: "At the same time some members of Council were tardy to, or absent from nearly 30 percent of public meetings, they voted themselves a 50 percent raise by unanimously passing ordinance 47-13 on July 8th."
    McCleaster said he was also attesting that Kiesling would receive a raise if re-elected. He opposed the raise in July and said he still does.
    "It is important to note that no violation has been established," McCleaster said.
    The commission dismissed Snyder's allegation that Mueller's mailers incorrectly said the city was facing a deficit of $700,000 and Kiesling's allegation that mailers incorrectly described her attendance record of 72 percent. The commission's executive director, Philip Richter, said he reviewed Mueller's and McCleaster's materials and said the statements about the deficit and attendance record appeared to be accurate.
    After holding the hearing, the full seven-member commission, made up of three Republicans, three Democrats and one independent, are expected to rule Monday whether Mueller and McCleaster accurately said that Snyder and Kiesling voted to give themselves a raise. The commission can issue a finding that a candidate violated state election laws against false campaign advertising but cannot impose any additional penalty. It can also refer the case to a county prosecutor, said Richter.
    Page 2 of 2 - Reach Kelly at 330-580-8323 or
    kelly.byer@cantonrep.com
    On Twitter: @kbyerREP
    Repository writer Robert Wang contributed to this report.

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