Tuesday, May 23, 2000

Ex-deputy tossed from sheriff race

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A fired Warren County deputy who is fighting to get his job back was tossed out of the sheriff's race after elections officials questioned his qualifications.

        William Sulfsted, who challenged his former boss, Republican Tom Ariss, as an independent, said Monday that he plans to sue the county board of elections to stay in the race.

        The Washington Township resident charged that his ouster Friday was politically motivated and tied to allegiances to Sheriff Ariss.

        “There's no question,” Mr. Sulfsted said. “... As an independent, I had the best shot at dethroning him. I knew from the get-go it was going to be a battle.”

        The Warren County Board of Elections approved Mr. Sulfsted's certification April 28 after a review of his grade transcript from the University of Cincinnati.

        Mr. Sulfsted claimed he had two years of college, which Ohio law requires of sheriff candidates who do not have at least two years of experience as a police supervisor within five years of filing for candidacy.

        Friday, county elections officials removed Mr. Sulf- sted from the ballot, saying an independent review found that Mr. Sulfsted fell nearly a year short of the college requirement.

        Les Spaeth, Warren County Republican Party chairman, asked fellow elections board members to reconsider Mr. Sulfsted's certification.

        Mr. Spaeth denied that he was motivated by politics, even though he said he discussed the matter with the sheriff April 28, just after the board voted to certify Mr. Sulfsted.

        Mr. Spaeth said he had second thoughts because he feared the board might face a lawsuit. Sheriff Ariss had threatened to file a protest with the board if Mr. Sulf- sted remained on the ballot.

        “I just want to do it right,” Mr. Spaeth said.

        Sheriff Ariss said he raised concerns to Mr. Spaeth after obtaining a copy of Mr. Sulf- sted's college transcript.

        “I talked to Les and said, "The way I read it, he did not meet the requirement,'” Sheriff Ariss said. “I did not ask him to reconsider. But I raised my own concerns.”

        Mr. Sulfsted has been embroiled in a legal battle with Sheriff Ariss since being fired in 1997. The sheriff contended Mr. Sulfsted lied to an internal-affairs investigator about firing his gun into a cruiser.

        Recently, the sheriff challenged a federal mediator's decision that the sheriff violated a grievance procedure in firing Mr. Sulfsted.

        Sheriff Ariss fired Mr. Sulfsted a second time in March after Mr. Sulfsted filed to challenge him in the sheriff's race.


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