Petitioners seek to oust 4 Celina lawmakers


By J Swygart - jswygart@limanews.com



Supporters of a measure to outlaw abortion in Celina gathered at Celina’s council meeting on Nov. 22.

Supporters of a measure to outlaw abortion in Celina gathered at Celina’s council meeting on Nov. 22.


File photo | The Lima News

CELINA — Recall petitions have been filed with the Mercer County board of elections as Celina residents seek to remove four city council members who voted in opposition to legislation that would have declared Celina a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn.”

Mercer County Election Director Kristi Rable said four petitions, each bearing in excess of the required 116 signatures of registered voters in Celina (a minimum of 15% of the total votes cast at the most recent regular municipal election) were submitted to the board Monday. The targets of those petitions are councilors Myron Buxton, Eric Lochtefeld, June Scott and Mike Sovinski. Each voted Nov. 22 in opposition to proposed legislation that would have outlawed abortion clinics within the city of Celina.

Councilmen Mark Fleck, Eric Baltzell and Eric Clausen voted in favor of the proposal that was spearheaded by Mark Lee Dickson, director of Right to Life of East Texas. Dickson is also the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.

Dickson said via email that city residents reached out to him via an online petition.

Resident Sarah Bellman said via email the recall effort was the only way to get the resident’s will. She said council was presented a petition with 650 citizens signing calling for the ordinance, with more than 80 businesses also asking for it.

“What then are we to do?” Bellman said via email. “If our elected officials are not listening to us, if they are having backroom meetings with their minds already made up, what are we left to do but to recall those who are not representing

us?”

The language contained in the recall petition against each of the four council members lists the following grounds for removal of office:

• Disregarding the stated will of the majority of the residents of the City of Celina.

• Sending the wrong message to the born children in Celina regarding the value of human life and the worthiness of the protection of life.

• Putting unborn children at risk of being murdered within the city limits.

• Putting businesses at risk of having an abortion facility located next door to their place of business.

Rable said board attorneys are researching provisions of the Ohio Revised Code to determine the timeline associated with recall petitions. The director said petition signatures are currently being verified, adding that a certification meeting will be called once that process is complete.

According to Ohio law, if the petition is deemed sufficient, and if the person whose removal is sought does not resign within five days after the sufficiency of the petition has been determined, an election shall be held at the next primary or general election occurring more than 90 days from the date of the finding of the sufficiency of the petition.

The legislation voted down in Celina leaned heavily on the Ohio Human Rights and Heartbeat Protection Act, which outlawed and criminalized abortion statewide “if the unborn child has a detectable heartbeat.”

More than a dozen states have now adopted similar legislation, but those laws are largely tied up in state and federal courts.

The legislation would have imposed up to a $2,500 fine and 12 months in prison for any person who performs an abortion inside the city limits, as well as any person “who aids or abets” an abortion.

Supporters of a measure to outlaw abortion in Celina gathered at Celina’s council meeting on Nov. 22.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/11/web1_Sanctuary-1-2.jpgSupporters of a measure to outlaw abortion in Celina gathered at Celina’s council meeting on Nov. 22. File photo | The Lima News

By J Swygart

jswygart@limanews.com

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