Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Ex-councilman denies fraud in Fairfield voting


Recall vote avoided by resignation

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD — A day after he escaped a recall vote by resigning his city council seat, Jon V. Saylor denied Tuesday that he created sham voters and falsified absentee ballots to help get himself elected.

        “I didn't do it. I'll definitely be fighting the charges,” Mr. Saylor said, speaking publicly for the first time since his 68-count felony indictment in May on charges of vote fraud.

        Meanwhile, at a special meeting Tuesday, City Council decided to meet again at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. At the meeting, council will vote to replace Mr. Saylor with Mike Snyder, who lost the November election to Mr. Saylor by more than 100 votes, to fill the First Ward seat.

        “Everybody's in agreement that Mike Snyder should be the person,” Councilman Erick Cook said after the meeting. Mr. Snyder would be sworn in at Monday's regular 7 p.m. council meeting. City Council has 60 days from last Monday to fill the vacancy for the remainder of Mr. Saylor's term, which ends Dec. 31, 2003.

        Mr. Saylor, 27, also said he is no longer interested in public service, and plans to pursue a career in law helping indigent people.

        “When I entered public service in 1990, I had the best intentions. Public servitude was my lifetime goal, it's what I wanted to do. That aspiration has now become a living nightmare for me and my family. It's one that I can't wake up from,” said Mr. Saylor, who called himself a “political outsider” in Butler County.

        Law Director John Clemmons, who attended the special meeting, said, “I think we're all relieved that it's resolved, and we look forward to having a new member of council appointed and moving forward.”

        Mr. Saylor said he decided to resign “when I realized that not only would they (my foes) not stop at anything, but they were willing to spend the taxpayers' money to get what they wanted.” A recall vote would have cost taxpayers more than $7,000.

        Free on bond awaiting a Sept. 25 trial, Mr. Saylor faces charges of false registration, inducing illegal voting, absent voter ballot violation, illegal voting, election falsification and interference with the conduct of an election.

        Mr. Saylor continued to deny any criminal wrongdoing, saying “the mere time commitment that would have been involved in orchestrating such a crime would have been unbelievable.”

        “The reason I held my ground is because I am innocent,” he said. “I've had supporters all along the way, and I still have supporters. Another reason I decided to back out is because the other council members weren't willing to work with me, and that was damaging my effectiveness.”

        Mr. Saylor said he plans to spend more time with his family.

        The case ranks among the worst cases of election fraud in Ohio in terms of the number of counts, according to the secretary of state's office.

       



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