Prairie Township voters will have one less name to pick from at the polls on Nov. 6.
Duane Dellinger, candidate for the position of Prairie Township fiscal officer, has withdrawn from the election.
One of four candidates originally certified by the Franklin County Board of Elections, Dellinger is a full-time lieutenant firefighter with Prairie Township.
According to Dellinger, when he decided to run for office, he contacted the Board of Elections and was given verbal confirmation that there was no conflict between his job with the fire department and the part-time position of fiscal officer.
Dellinger also contacted the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, as well as the Public Employee Retirement System. Both organizations, according to Dellinger, told him he was safe.
In a statement following his withdrawal, Dellinger said, “This is the information that I relied upon and gave the residents of Prairie Township when I stated there was no conflict.”
Dellinger, however, had also submitted an Advisory Opinion Request to the Ohio Ethics Commission.
Though they have yet to issue a formal advisory to Dellinger, he said they have informed him there appears to be a conflict and that he may not be able to hold the position of fiscal officer.
According to Chief Advisory Attorney for the Ohio Ethics Commission, Jennifer Hardin, Dellinger did not submit his request until after petitions had been filed, and due to the small amount of commission employees, it would be some time before it was complete.
Hardin explained that in general, the Ohio Ethics Commission does not allow a township fiscal officer to hold additional employment with that township, unless there is a specific provision for that township allowing it.
She also said the commission has yet to site anything relating to firefighters specifically, but that they are employees of the township.
Hardin added that not all officials in a township are subject to these rules.
Since the Prairie Township fiscal officer is not sworn in until April, it is possible that, should Dellinger continue his campaign, he may not find out until after Election Day if he is, in fact, eligible for the office he is running for.
Dellinger says the commission did offer one solution.
“They said I can retire,” he said.
He calls his decision to withdraw from the race a “significant personal financial decision” and attributes it in part to his own ethics.
“I wanted to inform the residents of Prairie Township that when I decided to enter the race, I was totally unaware there was a possible conflict of interest,” said Dellinger in his statement, “I still believe I have done nothing wrong, but I do not want my name or the name of Prairie Township to ever be considered unethical. I was brought up with good work and social ethics and have always felt that honesty and integrity are the only way to go.”
Dellinger has been with the Prairie Township Fire Department for nearly 29 years, and though he’s not yet ready to retire, that day might not be too far down the road. Dellinger claims that in four years, he will most likely be eligible for fiscal officer, though he has not yet decided if he will run again.
Dellinger thanked the Prairie Township residents who have shown him support throughout his campaign.
“I would ask that you both support and vote for the person you best feel would bring a strong work ethic, complete honesty and unquestioned integrity to the office of Prairie Township fiscal officer.