The Crawford County Board of Elections decided in favor of Commissioner Steve Reinhard after a hearing that challenged Reinhard’s right to vote on Thursday.
Stephanie Surina, who lives and works in Crawford County, filed the challenge with the Board of Elections based on the question of Reinhard’s residency.
During her testimony, Surina said that records with the Delaware County Auditor’s Office show that a home was purchased by Stephen and Kerrie K. Reinhard on May 27, 2014, on Ohio 203 in Radner, Ohio, which is located in Delaware County.
Reinhard, who served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives for the 82nd District from January 2001 through December 2008, is currently running for the position again in the upcoming primary election. The position has changed in the fact that the area represented has recently became the 87th district which encompasses Crawford, Morrow and Wyandot counties along with portions of Marion and Seneca counties.
Surina maintains that Reinhard lives with his wife and stepchildren in Delaware County, which is part of the 67th district.
“A lot of people have discussed the fact that Steve Reinhard no longer resides in Crawford County, yet he is a Crawford County Commissioner,” Surina said.
Reinhard, who was represented by attorney Russ Long, said he does still reside at his address of 17 years at 2030 Ohio 4 in rural Bucyrus, which is located in Crawford County.
During his testimony, Reinhard said his wife of three years is a registered voter in Delaware County and resides there during the school week with her children. Long said the issue of the children residing in Crawford County would cause custodial issues with the father of the two teen-aged children.
“My wife was at our house in Crawford County all weekend and has recently met with builders to construct a new house,” Reinhard said.
Reinhard said his wife plans to reside full-time in Crawford County when her daughters finish school in Delaware County.
Surina used several examples of other cases in her testimony including that of former Bucyrus mayor Dan Ross, who left office after it was found that he moved outside of the city limits during his second term as mayor.
Patricia Armstrong, chairperson of the Board of Elections, said that since Ross had rented out his home inside the city limits, there was no intent to return whereas Reinhard still lives in his house that is located in Crawford County.
“He can visit his wife and return to his residence in Crawford County,” Armstrong said.
Board member Maggie Barth said Reinhard’s situation is similar to that of people who reside in Ohio but own homes in Florida.
“They may live in Florida part of the time but there intent is to return to their residence in Ohio,” Barth said.
Surina said the situation could be reversed and that Reinhard may be living in Delaware County with an intent to return there after he spends time at his home in Crawford County.
After about 30 minutes of deliberation, the board ruled that Reinhard’s address in Crawford County is his valid address as a registered voter and denied the challenge filed by Surina.
The board was represented by Crawford County Prosecutor Matt Crall.
Surina said under Ohio law, a registered voter is allowed to challenge another’s right to vote and that in this case, she simply wanted answers.