LIMA — An appeals court ruled Monday that Lima mayoral candidate Elizabeth Hardesty should remain on the November ballot because she meets the definition of a Lima resident.
“We conclude that there is no genuine issue of material fact that Hardesty was a resident of Lima for at least six months before the last date on which nominating petitions could be filed,” according to the ruling, signed by judges William Zimmerman, Stephen Shaw and Mark Miller.
Lima attorney Richard Siferd, who represented residents Bart Mills and Alice Donahue in the appeal, said his side won’t appeal the decision.
In a news release, Hardesty, a registered Republican, blamed the county’s Democrats and her opponent, Sharetta Smith. Lima’s mayoral race is nonpartisan.
“The Allen County Democratic party leadership and my opponent’s supporters have tried to keep me off the ballot numerous times to continue their control over our city,” Hardesty said in the press release. “We learned again this morning that, for the second time, the Board of Election’s decision to allow me on the ballot was again upheld!”
“As has been previously stated, Sharetta Smith and the Sharetta Smith for Mayor campaign had no involvement in the legal actions filed against Ms. Hardesty,” according to an email campaign. “We have remained focused on connecting with the citizens of Lima, and growing a grassroots campaign focused around their issues.”
Siferd previously said the board of elections abused its discretion in allowing Hardesty on the May ballot and later on the upcoming November ballot. Visiting Judge James Brogan previously ruled that wasn’t the case.
Hardesty, a geologist who worked in the oil and gas industries, had a Pennsylvania driver’s license and a vehicle registered in Texas. She voted throughout the years from Lima, maintaining bank accounts and a safety deposit box in Lima and receiving her mail here, she testified to the board of elections.
Siferd said he disagreed with the appeals court decision, but it was impractical to file an appeal to Ohio’s Supreme Court with absentee voting beginning in two weeks.
“We filed in early July, and here it’s late September. It’s too late to appeal further,” Siferd said. “It’s going to be up to the voters, I guess.”
The appeals court described the fight as a “linguistic dispute over the meaning of the term ‘resident’ as it is used in the City of Lima Charter.” What truly mattered, according to the ruling, was “the place where her habitation is fixed and to which, whenever she is absent, she has the intention of returning.”