Sunday, May 21, 2000

Indicted councilman elusive

Butler sheriff looking for Saylor

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — Authorities were looking for Fairfield Councilman Jon V. Saylor on Saturday, a day after a Butler County grand jury indicted him on 68 counts of voter fraud stemming from last November's 1st Ward council race.

        Deputies are searching for Mr. Saylor, 27, in Butler County and Cincinnati, Butler sheriff's spokesman Brad Kraemer said.

        The Butler County Board of Elections in February issued a report saying there is strong evidence that Mr. Saylor violated more than a half-dozen election laws, including tampering with ballots, inducing illegal voting, interfering with the conduct of an election and possessing fake records.

        That report followed two days of hearings and an investigation by the elections board into voting irregularities in the 1st Ward Fairfield race. Mr. Saylor won the council seat, 820-678, over Mike Snyder.

        Peter Swenty, Mr. Saylor's attorney, was at a lecture Saturday and could not be reached for comment.

        Outside the Kroger store on Pleasant Avenue in Fairfield, people had opinions about the indictment.

        “Personally, I think he's a crook,” said Matt Lucas, a 26-year Fairfield resident. “He should've just left (council).”

        Louis Jacoboski, a 28-year Fairfield resident, said he was surprised at the number of charges, even though he said there appeared to be much evidence against Mr. Saylor.

        “For Fairfield it's a bad day for all the citizens, especially for those in the 1st Ward. They got hoodwinked,” Mr. Jacoboski said. “He should definitely resign.”

        John Brown, who collected a petition of 450 signatures asking Mr. Saylor to quit, said people may have been willing to help the council member had he resigned.

        “Now the general consensus of the city of Fairfield is they desire that Mr. Saylor would be given no breaks,” Mr. Brown said. “If there were a total of 68 charges, Mr. Saylor should stand accountable for every one of them.”

        Some Fairfield council members said they don't know what impact, if any, the indictment will have on their ability to force Mr. Saylor off council. There is little they can do remove him — unless he is found guilty or pleads guilty to a crime, Councilman Ron D'Epifanio said.

        A recall vote cannot be held until July 1 at the earliest, be cause by law such a vote cannot take place within the first six months of an officeholder's term. Mr. Saylor could be removed if he has three consecutive unexcused absences from council meetings.

        “My guess is now that he's been indicted Mr. Saylor will finally decide that he needs to resign or avoid coming to council meetings and force us to remove him,” Fairfield Councilman Sterling Uhler said.

        At least a dozen questionable ballots in the 1st Ward race were counted during the November election, officials have said.

        During the hearings, several witnesses testified that they signed blank voter registration and absentee ballot request forms for the Fairfield council elections, though they didn't live in Fairfield. Some witnesses said they gave their voted absentee ballots to Mr. Saylor.

        “It boggles my mind that a man has so little respect for his good name,” said Wanda Madaffari, a 40-year Fairfield resident.


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