PERRY TWP. - Jerry Wolford can use the term "re-elect" on his campaign signs, even though he's not currently in office, according to an Ohio Elections Commission advisory opinion issued in 1999.
Wolford's running for Perry Township Trustee, an office he previously held for 13 years but does not currently hold.
Columbiana County Board of Elections Deputy Director Kim Fusco confirmed Thursday that someone called the Lisbon office questioning whether he could legally use "re-elect" on his campaign signs. She said according to the advisory opinion, he can say "re-elect" on his signs because he held the position previously.
Board of Elections Director Adam Booth noted that the local board has no legal authority to say it's okay or is not okay. They just passed along the information on how the Ohio Elections Commission has ruled in the past.
When asked about the signs, Wolford said he personally called the Ohio Secretary of State's Office three times and asked specifically if he could use the term "re-elect" or not. He was referred to Ohio Revised Code section 3517.21 which covers false statements in campaign materials.
A line in that section says that no person shall "use the title of an office not currently held by a candidate in a manner that implies that the candidate does currently hold that office or use the term 're-elect' when the candidate has never been elected at a primary, general or special election to the office for which he or she is a candidate."
The advisory opinion from the Ohio Elections Commission also referred to that section of Ohio Revised Code, saying the statute asserts that the term "re-elect" can be used by any candidate previously elected to an office who is seeking that same office.
"It does not matter if that person is the incumbent office holder or was elected to the position in 1970 or any other year. Once an individual has been elected to that office, the candidate can use the term "re-elect" in any future campaign for the same office," the advisory opinion said.
Wolford said he felt he had the right to do it and checked it out. He served before and it's allowed.
"I didn't do it to be shady," he said.