An Olentangy Orange High School student running for an Ohio House seat won’t be on the ballot in March after the Delaware County Board of Elections ruled Thursday that he did not have enough valid signatures on his petition.
Daniel Lomeo, 18, a senior at Olentangy Orange High, attended a special board hearing Thursday afternoon. He had protested the board’s earlier decision to invalidate his petition to run in the upcoming 67th Ohio House District Republican primary election against incumbent Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell.
At the hearing, Lomeo was sworn in and testified that he had collected voter registration forms from his fellow students and turned them into the office at Orange High, which the Board of Elections said is authorized to handle the forms. Lomeo said he submitted the registration forms in three groups the week of Dec. 7-11.
On Dec. 14, Lomeo officially filed a petition with the Board of Elections and declared his intention to run in the state representative race.
However, the board of elections denied the petition because it only contained six valid signatures.
Lomeo said that when he heard the news, he was “dumbfounded” but eventually learned that Olentangy Orange High School had not processed the registration forms as they were supposed to and none of the signatures of the students who had just registered were counted.
Lomeo then protested the board’s decision and was granted a hearing on Thursday afternoon.
After some discussion, the board voted to accept the registration forms and found the school should have filed them on time.
However, after recounting the signatures, it was found that the petition only had 40 valid signatures, 10 short of the required 50 signatures.
Karla Herron, deputy director of the board of elections, said some of the registration forms were incomplete or had incorrect information, like one student who put his birth date as the date he filled out the form or another student who forgot to sign his name to the form.
Board of elections chairman Steve Cuckler thanked Lomeo for his interest in running for office and said he hoped he wouldn’t let this experience cool his passion for politics.
“Thank you for thinking about running,” Cuckler said. “For such a young age, it’s great to see someone so interested in politics. We need people like yourself engaged in the process. I want you to stay fired up because we need people like you in the future.”
After the hearing, Lomeo said he was “disappointed” by the outcome but he said he respects the board’s decision.
“I’ll never stop trying to make a difference in the community,” Lomeo said, adding that he would find a way to make a difference even if it doesn’t mean running for state representative. “Helping the community is something I’m passionate about. This motivates me to make more of a difference.”
Brenner now faces no challengers in the GOP primary.