Seneca County GOP chair proposed vote of no confidence against David Koehl over petitions dispute: source
Tiffin, Ohio — Seneca County Republican Party Chairman Chris Widman sought to hold a vote of no confidence against David Koehl, a member of the Seneca County Board of Elections, following the rejection of the candidacy petitions of two Republican incumbents for Tiffin City Council. Widman also considered hiring an attorney to sue the Seneca County Board of Elections, TiffinOhio.net has learned.
During a meeting on Monday, February 13, the Seneca County Board of Elections reviewed candidacy petitions from all local candidates and voted to reject the candidacy petitions of four Tiffin City Council candidates, including Republican incumbents Vickie Wilkins and Ken Jones. Wilkins and Jones had their petitions rejected because they failed to properly fill out their petition forms.
Board of Elections member Nancy Grandillo made the motion to reject the petitions from Wilkins and Jones, and fellow member David Koehl seconded the motion. Due to Jim Fruth’s resignation from the Board of Elections because he is running for Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court judge in the 2023 election, the board was down to only three voting members: Grandillo, Koehl, and Jim Cline.
Jim Cline voted against rejecting the petitions of Wilkins and Jones. The motion passed by a vote of two to one. Koehl and Jim Cline were both recommended for appointment to the Board of Elections by the Seneca County Republican Party.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, during a meeting of the Seneca County Republican Party Central Committee on Tuesday, April 11, party Chairman Chris Widman attempted to initiate a vote of no confidence against Koehl in response to his actions regarding the petitions of Wilkins and Jones. The party entered into executive session to further discuss the proposal, but Widman’s motion to initiate a vote of no confidence failed to garner a second.
The source also revealed that Widman consulted with an attorney about a potential lawsuit against the Seneca County Board of Elections. The attorney reportedly quoted Widman a cost of $30,000 for the lawsuit and charged him a consultation fee. When Widman brought the idea to the rest of the party, they were not on board with hiring the attorney to go forward with the lawsuit, according to the source.
When asked for comment on the matter, Widman did not respond.
Koehl, when asked for comment, said he voted against going into executive session because he believes “public business should be conducted in public.” He added, “However, the rest of the committee voted to go into executive session… Out of respect for the committee’s decision, I will not break the confidentiality of what was said, unlike your source.”
The rejection of the petitions of two Republican incumbents for Tiffin City Council has sparked controversy within the local GOP. While the motion for a vote of no confidence against Koehl failed to gain a second, Widman’s consultation with an attorney about a potential lawsuit against the Seneca County Board of Elections further highlights the tensions within the party.