Editor’s note: This story corrects the race in question. We regret the error.
WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The GOP’s selection for judge of the Common Pleas Court is suing the Trumbull County Board of Elections.
Sarah Thomas Kovoor, who lives in Howland, was chosen by the Republican Party during an emergency meeting Aug. 14 to run against Democrat Cynthia Rice for the vacancy left by Peter Kontos’ retirement. That term runs through 2026.
Earlier this month, however, the county BOE decided to take another look at whether Kovoor being on the ballot is legal. She previously had an unsuccess bid for another judgeship in May, so the BOE has questioned whether she is eligible under state law regarding the eligibility of those who previously sought an elected position.
According to Kovoor’s suit that was filed Monday in Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, the BOE held a special meeting Aug. 19 in which board members discussed Kovoor’s certification. During that meeting, BOE Director Stephanie Penrose requested an opinion from the prosecutor’s office.
Prior to that, however, the lawsuit contends that Penrose was quoted in a Tribune Chronicle article from Aug. 17 that she would be seeking the legal opinion.
The lawsuit also contends that during the meeting Aug. 19, Penrose stated that the “majority of the Board requested an opinion from the prosecutor’s office,” though the board held no open meetings from Aug 15-18.
Kovoor believes that the board violated Ohio’s public meetings law by speaking on the issue and seeking the prosecutor’s opinion prior to this special meeting.
She is asking that this action be declared invalid and that the board be held to Ohio’s public meetings laws. She is also asking for a $500 civil forfeiture, along with court costs and attorney’s fees.
The Trumbull County Board of Elections declined to comment on the lawsuit.