NEWTON FALLS — Elected Councilwoman Tesa Spletzer and her lawyer are responding to incumbent 3rd Ward Councilman Lyle Waddell’s challenge about the legitimacy of the fall election.
In an effort to retain his position, Waddell filed a lawsuit questioning the legitimacy of the election. He claims the Newton Falls charter requires the election for an unexpired term to take place at the next general election — which would be November 2021 in this case — therefore invalidating Spletzer’s victory.
A hearing is set for Jan. 8 before Judge Andrew Logan on whether to dismiss the case.
Spletzer, the elected 3rd Ward councilwoman, and her attorney, Alfred Schrader, have responded to the lawsuit, citing the Trumbull County Board of Elections’ decision to hold the election this year rather than next year.
“This decision was based on the Newton Falls city charter, which calls for filling unexpired terms as soon as possible by vote of the people at the next general election. As a result of the decision, candidates were required to file petitions with the board of elections on Dec. 18, 2019, in order to be placed on the primary election ballot,” they responded in a court filing.
Following the election, Spletzer was sworn in Nov. 18 by village Municipal Judge Philip Vigorito and took her oath of office. Schrader argued at a Nov. 23 village council meeting that Spletzer should be in the meeting as the 3rd Ward councilwoman.
“Tesa has been sworn in, filled out all the necessary paperwork and the election has been certified,” Schrader said. “She should have been sitting there as a councilwoman today. She has done everything she needs to do. She won the election by law. Uphold the will of the voters.”
Spletzer received 67 percent of the votes while Waddell received 33 percent.
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