LISBON - What do delinquent taxes and public urination have in common? Both issues have come up in the Democratic primary race for Columbiana County commissioner between candidates Dan Bailey and Nathan Walker.
Last Thursday, Walker issued a news release asking Bailey to get out of the race because of his business-related debts, including back taxes owed the state. He said Bailey also has liens against his property.
Walker said he decided to raise the issue because Bailey, in the news story announcing his candidacy, touted his business background and experience - as the owner of Game On! Video Games and More in Salem and his partial ownership of a local semi-pro football team - as his chief qualification.
"Bailey would be or one day could be a great candidate if his statements accurately reflected his professional experiences but unfortunately they do not," Walker said.
According to court records, a total of $27,509 in sales tax judgments was obtained in early 2012 against Bailey and his business partner based on legal action taken by the Ohio Department of Taxation. They also had a $10,060 judgment against them based on a 2011 lawsuit filed by Joe Hand Promotions Inc.
Bailey could not be reached for comment despite three messages left on his cell phone.
Walker and Bailey are seeking the Democratic nomination in the May 6 primary election, with the winner moving on to face incumbent Commissioner Mike Halleck, a Republican, who is unopposed in his primary.
"The point is the Democratic Party needs the best possible choice to move forward and face Halleck in the general election. I don't see how Bailey can do this on his business record when his record isn't good," Walker said.
As for public urination, the charge was filed against Walker following an incident that occurred behind Jackson's Market at Guilford Lake about 7 p.m. May 27, 2007. According to police records, the owner of Jackson's Market saw Walker urinating behind his business and called the highway patrol, which in turn contacted the sheriff's office.
Walker, who was 30 at the time, told the deputy he could not hold his bladder any longer, so he went around the corner of the store to relieve himself. He pleaded no contest in county municipal court to public indecency and was fined $50.
Walker referred to the incident in the same news release criticizing Bailey, saying, "I realize that no one is perfect. Years ago I got in trouble for using the bathroom outside. It was embarrassing but I dealt with the consequences and moved on."
The media had contacted Walker about the public urination charge a week before he issued the news release, after coming across it while performing a court records check on both candidates and intended to address the public urination and tax delinquencies in its candidate stories for the upcoming election.
Walker told the reporter he and a friend stopped at Jackson's Market to purchase some food for a party they were attending and to use the restroom, only to learn it was not open to the public. Unable to hold it any longer, Walker said he went around back and urinated.
"I wasn't drunk or anything ... I'm a diabetic now (but undiagnosed in 2007) and I think that may have been related. Sometimes you can't control it when you're a diabetic," he said.