Saturday, October 18, 2003

Coyne can run, but not serve

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEW RICHMOND - Ronald and Marline Altman believe in John Coyne's right to run for public office - even though he won't be able to serve if elected.

Coyne, who was released from prison in 2001 after serving 17 years for assault and attempted escape, is running for Ohio Township trustee.

According to Ohio law, Coyne can vote and run, but can't hold public office because he was convicted of a serious crime of violence, officials said.

Whether Coyne knows this is uncertain. He couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

However, the Altmans are aware, and still signed his petitions. They say Coyne deserves his rights.

The Altmans were among 30 registered Ohio Township voters who signed Coyne's nominating petitions, earning him a spot on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Running as an independent, Coyne, 60, is a self-described "rugged individualist." In past interviews, he has said he stands up for what he believes.

"I have a chronic dislike of unjust authority," he said in a 2002 Enquirer interview.

Coyne owns a seven-ton British Scorpion tank, which he has driven around New Richmond, even to a fast-food drive-through window.

In 1981, Coyne shot three teens looting his Boot Hill Auto Graveyard. One died, and the others were convicted of juvenile theft. Coyne was acquitted of murder, but convicted of felonious assault on the survivors.

Coyne's opponent, incumbent Ohio Township Trustee Robert C. Frey could not be reached for comment Friday.

"He fights for the little guy, instead of the big business interests," said Ronald Altman. "Around New Richmond you run into a lot of people who have high opinions of him."

E-mail mmccain@enquirer .com

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