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Government & Politics

Stark County Avoids Another Legal Fight by Picking an Interim Commissioner

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TIM RUDELL
/
WKSU

Stark County Democrats are not going through with threatened litigation over who will complete  the term of Stark County Commissioner Tom Bernabei, who's resigning a year early to become mayor of Canton.

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Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU
Newly appointed Stark County Commissioner Dave Bridenstine

State law says the party of a person leaving office picks the successor. But long-time Democrat Bernabei became an independent in his mayoral run. It is unclear what happens with a party switch, or drop out.  So, at a special session, the remaining two commissioners and the county prosecutor appointed long-time the commissioners' legal counsel, Dave Bridenstine, to take over for Bernabei.  

Stark Democratic Chairman Phil Giavasis 

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Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Phil Giavasis

still has concerns about the law but is OK with the appointment because Bridenstine is not a Republican. 

“Given the circumstances, I think everyone agrees that the statute needs some addressing.  But, that aside, I think the appointment of Dave Bridenstine to fill the unexpired term is an excellent choice.  Then let the voters decide in November who should be the next commissioner.”

Bridenstine had been an assistant county prosecutor for more than three decades.