By Jeff Gallatin
Mayor Kevin Kennedy has filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission against his November opponent, former Mayor Thomas O’Grady, contending he is misleading people with a campaign sign.
Kennedy’s complaint stems from signs reading “Leadership for North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O’Grady,” with Kennedy noting that O’Grady is not the mayor of North Olmsted or any other city right now. Kennedy, who became City Council president after O’Grady became mayor, won the mayor’s office in the last election. O’Grady and businessman Tim Smith lost in the primary, with Kennedy then besting North Olmsted school Board President John Lasko in the general election.
Referring to the complaint, Kennedy said Ohio campaign laws prohibit O’Grady from using signs saying he is mayor. Kennedy said in his complaint that both on his website and on the sign, O’Grady refers to himself as mayor to imply that he is the current mayor.
“He’s definitely trying to mislead people with that,” he said. “He’s trying to pass himself off as the mayor, when he hasn’t been for several years.”
Kennedy said it’s the latest in a string of unfortunate actions by O’Grady. Kennedy cited a YouTube video that shows O’Grady removing a Kennedy sign from a neighbor’s yard ,then engaging with residents of the home after he takes it to the front door of the home.
“Enough is enough,” Kennedy said. “North Olmsted residents are entitled to an honest campaign about the issues … Honestly, he’s stooped to calling me a bum on his website, made a false and odd statement at a public forum saying that I couldn’t drive a city car because they wouldn’t insure me, and worse, he’s actually been caught on video taking my yard sign from a supporter’s yard in broad daylight.”
Kennedy said using a yard sign with the title Mayor Thomas O’Grady is “about as clear a violation of the law as there is.”
O’Grady told West Life he gets along with the wife in the household but not other members in question and that he thought someone had committed a prank on the family by putting the Kennedy sign in their yard. Members of the household dispute this, saying the sign was there with their consent and that O’Grady did not have their leave to remove the sign.
Referring to the yard signs, O’Grady said Kennedy is attempting to divert voters’ attention.
“When Kevin files a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission like this, he’s clearly trying to divert people’s attention away from his track record as mayor,” O’Grady said. “He’s been an absentee mayor and when he does things like this, he is trying to get people to not look at his record as mayor.”
O’Grady said he has used the phrasing throughout his three campaigns for mayor, including the one in 2005 when he beat Tom Herbster, the last one in 2009 and this one.
“The sad truth of it is, Kevin just doesn’t want people examining his time as mayor,” O’Grady said.