Leonard Sines says recent change to Ohio law mandating sheriff qualifications is “unconstitutional.” Sines’s candidacy to run for Fayette County Sheriff in the 2016 election was not certified by the Fayette County Board of Elections in a review May 4.
The Fayette County Board of Elections reviewed Sines’s candidacy for sheriff and concluded his qualifications to run are not “clear and compelling” and do not meet the specifications in Ohio Revised Code Section 311.01, which mandates election and qualifications for sheriff in the state of Ohio.
“It’s unconstitutional. We proved it in 2012. I guess we’ll have to go back to court to do it again this time,” said Sines in a statement May 5.
Sines ran for Fayette County Sheriff in 2012. Sines said he was qualified to run as sheriff in the 2012 election.
But in the four years since Sines ran for sheriff, the Ohio legislature has made some amendments to R.C. Section 311.01, which changed the subsections for the election and qualification for sheriff.
Senate Bill 42, sponsored in part by Sen. Bob Peterson (R-OH), passed through the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Kasich Dec.10, 2014. The amendments made to R.C. Section 311.01, election and qualifications of sheriff, went into effect March 2015.
Sines is most concerned with the amendments made to Section 311.01(B) 9(a) and 9(b), which changed the education and experience requirements for a sheriff candidate.
In 2012 R.C. Section 311.01 (B) 9(a) and 9(b) required some college credit and/or a minimum of two years of supervisory experience at the rank of corporal or above. The amended 2015 law requires an associate’s degree in law enforcement or a bachelor’s degree and/or two consecutive years of supervisory experience at the rank of sergeant or above.
Sines failed to provide to the board of elections “clear and compelling evidence” in his affidavit for candidacy that he met either of the qualifications in R.C. Section 311.01(B) 9(a) or (b), according to board members.
But Sines maintains he is a qualified candidate for sheriff: “I feel I’m qualified. I have 48 years of law enforcement. I’m a Greenfield City police officer. I used to be chief of police at South Bloomfield. I was there one year. I’ve got two years of college in civil law and two and a half years of college in law enforcement at Southern State. But it’s not good enough because I don’t have a degree. Four years ago it was good enough, because you only had to have two years of college in anything. Four years later they changed it so you have to have a degree now. That’s where it’s unconstitutional.”
Reach Ashley Bunton at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton.