by Kyle Swenson
In this week’s episode of Suburban Election Shenanigans, we cast our attention to that most familiar arena of civic ridiculousness, Seven Hills.
It was there that folks got riled up earlier this summer when a group of six citizens put out a newsletter claiming city officials hire and promote their friends and generally screw up city finances in bountiful ways. Among those targeted was Mayor David Bentkowski, who recently abandoned his post for a state job but is running for an at-large council seat anyway, to ensure an uninterrupted line of irritation to his Seven Hills constituents.
Longtime readers of Scene may remember Bentkowski, the Bizarre Boy Mayor whose tenure will be remembered for such noble achievements as ruling the city from the Mayoral Bedroom of his parents’ house, writing a book about his wonderfulness, collecting Superman toys in between city business, and unsuccessfully suing a certain weekly newspaper over its alleged sense of humor.
Like most of the antics in Seven Hills, the noise around the newsletter spilled into the operatic realm when the Boy Mayor accosted one of the men responsible for the newsletter with a video camera.
But the fight became official last week when Seven Hills councilman Peter Draganic filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission against the six residents responsible for the muckraking. The meat of the complaint says the authors put forth false information in violation of state law.
A panel in Columbus threw out part of the complaint, but will hold a hearing this week on the charge that the six men have ties to current candidates and officials, despite their newsletter’s claims that they do not.
According to the six, the election complaint is just another trick of Bentkowski’s regime. “Really, it’s just the same old line that comes out of Seven Hills,” says Tim Fraundorf, a longtime resident and one of the newsletter’s authors. “If anyone has a different opinion of elected officials, they try and stifle that.”
Draganic sounds equally exhausted by the drama, but no less defiant for it. “I’m not trying to stifle them at all from making a point,” he says. “It appears to me they are nothing more than a front for certain candidates and a way to do some dirty work of some campaigns without them having to get their hands dirty.”
The councilman also claims the complaint was his own idea, not cooked up by others in the Seven Hills political sphere. “I wrote the complaint on my own. I submitted it on my own,” he says.