July 1, 2016

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Election 2012: Race for clerk of courts bumps the talk

MEDINA — David Wadsworth, the Medina County clerk of courts, may talk before a group of seniors at the Medina Community Recreation Center — but not until after the Nov. 6 election.

Wadsworth is running Nov. 6 to retain his job, to which he was appointed two years ago by the county Republican Party.

David Wadsworth

Maryann Chandler

He was scheduled to talk at a Medina Senior Walking Club’s luncheon Oct. 19. The luncheon, which is open to everyone, is a regular event sponsored by the tax-supported recreation center.

Beverly Morris, a walking club member, protested Wadsworth’s appearance, arguing it would be unfair to his Democratic opponent, Maryann Chandler — especially because he had talked to the same group last year.

When recreation center officials refused to reschedule the event, Morris sent a letter to The Gazette.

“Why is he being given a second opportunity and less than three weeks before the election, to occupy such a “bully pulpit?’ ” she wrote.

Mike Wright, the director of the recreation center, said Wadsworth was not going to be allowed to make a campaign speech. He only could talk about his duties as clerk of courts.

“It wouldn’t be fair to let Dave talk about his election; he could only talk about his job,” Wright said. “His job is to serve the people.”

Wright said Morris was the only club member who raised an objection.

“She blew it way out of proportion and it’s a shame because people really wanted to hear him talk,” he said.

But Morris said the issue was a matter of principle — that the recreation center, which is supported by Medina city tax dollars, shouldn’t be seen as favoring one candidate.

“I think the timing of it was ill advised,” she said in an interview. “I had no problem with him speaking to the group last spring.”

Morris said she also was bothered by the fact that Wadsworth was scheduled to speak by his sister, Susan Becks, who coordinates senior activities at the center.

Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said he didn’t think the timing of Wadsworth’s appearance was politically motivated. But he acknowledged there was an appearance of unfairness.

“To me, it’s about fairness,” the mayor said Tuesday afternoon. “If you’re going to invite one, they should extend the same opportunity to the other.”

Hanwell said Medina television stations do not air shows hosted by candidates during an established time period leading up to Election Day.

“We either need nothing … or at least offer the same opportunities to other candidates,” he said.

Several hours after the interview with the mayor, the recreation center director called The Gazette and said Wadsworth’s appearance was postponed until Nov. 16.

Wright said the event was postponed because the center’s schedule could not fit Wadsworth’s opponent, Maryann Chandler, into the club’s luncheon schedule before the Nov. 6 election.

“We thought the only fair thing to do would be to ask Maryanne Chandler to speak during that same time period before the election,” Wright said. “She’s welcome to come here and speak about her job as an attorney.”

But Chandler said she never received an invitation.

“No one has ever called and extended an opportunity to me,” she said. “I am free most nights to do that.”

Wadsworth said he was disappointed he won’t get a chance to speak to the seniors. He said the topic of his presentation was using court records for genealogy research.

“The problem is that people don’t know what the clerk of courts does,” he said. “I try to get information out about what we do here.”

Wadsworth defended his sister, saying her actions weren’t politically motivated.

“I set this up eight months ago, before Maryann Chandler was a candidate,” he said.

Contact Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.