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MAHONING COUNTY Ex-clerk for commission is up for elections board



Published: Wed, January 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Democratic chairman wants the party's other elections board member to resign this summer.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A former clerk to Mahoning County commissioners is expected to be named Saturday to the board of elections, the county Democratic chairman said.

The 20-member Mahoning Democratic Party's executive committee will meet at 6 p.m. Saturday at Austintown Township hall to elect a board of elections member to a four-year term, which pays $14,358 annually plus benefits.

The term begins March 1. Mahoning Republicans reappointed Mark Munroe to another four-year term on the four-person board last week.

The appointee: Democratic Chairman David Ditzler said he expects Robert J. Wasko to be appointed to the position, replacing Kathleen Dillon, who has held the job for the past four years. As chairman, Ditzler appoints the members of the party's executive committee.

"He's a professional; he knows government and budgetary responsibilities and brings a professionalism to the board in addition to being a hard-working Democrat," Ditzler said of Wasko. "He's committed to working hard on behalf of the party, which is what we need very badly."

Wasko, of Youngstown, served as clerk to the commissioners for more than five years and unsuccessfully ran for a state House seat in 1992. He operates Wasko Funeral Home in Campbell and is corporate vice president of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, which has three local offices.

"I think I can bring some balance to the position because of my experiences," Wasko said. "Ever since I left the commissioners' office [in 1998], my heart has been in public service. I wanted to get back into it on a smaller scale and felt this was an opportunity to do so."

Debating run: Dillon said she has not yet decided if she will attempt to seek another term on the board. The executive committee will take nominations from the floor at the meeting, Ditzler said.

Ditzler said Dillon did a credible job during her time on the elections board but the party wants to go in a different direction.

"We need someone who has more flexibility and has more ties to the community and fund-raising abilities," Ditzler said. "[Wasko] adds another role to the position. As a former candidate and someone who worked for the county commissioners, he knows the budgetary constraints of the county."

Ditzler said Michael Morley, the other Democrat on the elections board and the party's former chairman, should resign when the Democrats elect a new chairman in June or July.

Lisa Antonini, who worked for Morley during his tenure as chairman, is the leading candidate to replace Ditzler as chairman.

Time left: Morley, who could not be reached to comment on Ditzler's statements, has two years left on his board appointment.

Ditzler said Morley, who appointed Dillon and himself to the board when he ran the Democratic Party, should step down and let the incoming chairman take his spot on the elections board. If it was Morley whose term was expiring instead of Dillon's, Ditzler said, he would have sought to replace Morley.

skolnick@vindy.com




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