Two applications filed for New Miami council after member’s resignation

New Miami has received two applications for a council seat that opened when Megan Horn resigned after losing a court battle to have a previous felony conviction expunged from her record.

Horn was in court Monday trying to convince Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens to erase her criminal record. He refused, because he said she lied on her application for an expungement when she answered “yes” to a question about whether all her restitution, fines and court costs have been paid.

“Unfortunately because of that and I know to a lot of people it’s just one little technical answer, well to me that’s a big deal,” Stephens said.

She was indicted for felony theft and forgery in September 2009. She pleaded guilty to forgery and was ordered to pay $473.28 in restitution to Walmart plus a $250 fine and court costs.

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Horn ran unopposed in the Nov. 5. election, winning a seat on the seven-member village council, and was sworn in Jan. 2. When Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser learned a convicted felon was about the take office, he asked the 12th District Court of Appeals to stop it. Horn filed a motion to have her record sealed in December, and Gmoser filed an objection.

She said she doesn’t have enough time to continue fighting for the expungement to keep her seat on council. She has 30 days to appeal Stephens’ decision and must respond to the existing action in the 12th District if she wants to keep her council seat.

“I’m not going to get that done fast enough, with my work schedule, it’s just not going to happen,” she told the Journal-News.

With her resignation, the 12th District Court case is over. She said after things “die down” she plans to apply for expungement again so the felony won’t impede her future career plans. Gmoser’s only interest in her felony record was her public office.

“I think that’s the honorable thing for her to do,” Gmoser said about her resignation. “The road to redemption begins with a good act of contrition.”

In her formal resignation Horn wrote that it was “greatest honor” to be elected and she hopes she might be able to return.

“I will work hard to regain the trust of the community and continue my rehabilitation with the courts,” she wrote. “So that I can one day be of service to the village in an official capacity.”

With her resignation, new Mayor Stephanie Chandler will be accepting applications to fill the seat. The man she beat, former Mayor Bob Henley, already filed his bid to return to council. Horn encouraged others to apply.

“You can’t let someone you have chose to not re-elect for mayor sneak back in there and have control.”

Henley lost the election 63 to 37 percent margin. In the tiny village of about 2,250 residents only 220 people cast ballots. Henley has been on the village council in some capacity since 2008.

“I love my little town, I want to be involved and regardless of what was said about me, you know ‘nothing’s been done in six years,’ this is all being said by people that never come to a council meeting,” Henley told the Journal-News. “They don’t know what gets done. There’s a lot of things that get done that everybody doesn’t see. When you have limited finances there’s only so many things you can do.”

Chandler said the village also received an application from James Chestnut, who she went to school with and considers “very worthy of the position.”

The council has 30 days to name a replacement for Horn, if they don’t, Chandler said it’s the mayor’s pick.

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