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Residents appeal Summit County Probate Court's dismissal of bid to remove Macedonia Mayor

by Briana Barker | Reporter Published: August 12, 2015 12:00 AM

Macedonia -- Five Macedonia residents who filed a complaint with the Summit County Probate Court seeking the removal of Mayor Don Kuchta are asking the Ninth District Court of Appeals to reverse the Probate Court's dismissal of the complaint.

Attorney Warner Mendenhall, representing residents Susan Belt, Nancy Harrity, John Matijasich, Orville Jackson Meade and Michael Miller, filed the appeal Aug. 4.

Probate Court Judge Elinor Marsh Stormer ruled July 31 that it was not in her court's jurisdiction to hear the case -- which is the claim Macedonia Law Director Joe Diemert had made in asking that the case be dismissed. Diemert said the city's charter requires elected officials to be removed via recall elections.

"The removal of Mayor Kuchta will only affect Macedonia and as such is purely a matter of local self-government, not of statewide concern," Stormer stated in her ruling.

Mendenhall told the News Leader July 31 he feels the Probate Court should be allowed to decide the issue.

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"It's an interesting way that the legislature decided to set up a way for citizens to hold politicians accountable," he said. "A recall is a totally different thing; it's apples to oranges."

Mendenhall said he doesn't expect a resolution of the appeal until after the Nov. 3 election.

Kuchta announced July 31 he would not be seeking re-election and, despite the complaint, will be vacating the mayoral office Dec. 31.

The residents seeking Kuchta's removal allege Kuchta failed to report "gifts" of a fishing trip and an asphalt walkway from contractors who work for the city, hid a garnishment order for two weeks to obtain law department services, improperly received service director salary and taxpayer-funded snow-plowing and garbage pickup. The complaint also alleges Kuchta kept Finance Director Scott Svab from performing his duties.

Kuchta said the appeal is going to cost more taxpayer dollars because the law department will be involved and called the act "vengeful."

"It's almost like kicking a guy when he's down -- when he is not even running for office," Kuchta said, referring to himself.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432

bbarker@recordpub.com

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