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Judge Yeagers hears Center referendum case

January 30, 2013 News Extra

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Butler County Judge S. Michael Yeager heard arguments this morning regarding the constitutionality of a referendum passed by Center Township voters in November which reduces the number of township supervisors from five to three.

Township solicitor Michael Gallagher, who filed an injunction petition on behalf of three township supervisors opposing the referendum, said the referendum must be struck down because it violates the state constitution by removing three supervisors from office — Ed Latuska, Philip Wulff and Ken Frenchak — before the end of their appointed terms and without cause or due process.

Former township Supervisor Beverly Schenck, who championed the referendum’s passage last year, told Yeager that Gallagher should not be representing the supervisors because the township itself is not a named party in the injunction.

Attorney Michael English, appearing for the county elections bureau, characterized the injunction as “a dispute between warring factions in the municipality” and said the county’s only interest in the matter is seeing it resolved before Feb. 11 so the county may have “an election in a timely and orderly fashion.”

Feb. 11 is when nomination petitions become available for the May 21 primary. The petitions may be circulated and submitted beginning Feb. 19.

If Judge Yeager finds the referendum unconstitutional, the primary ballot will have two open seats on a five-member township board of supervisors. If the referendum is upheld, township voters in the primary will choose three Democratic nominees and three Republican nominees.

The new supervisors would take office in January 2014.

Judge Yeager did not say when he would rule in the case.

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