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Yemma beats political odds

Published: Fri, June 10, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

On the side

GOP breakfast: The Mahoning County Young Republicans will hold a Flag Day breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Republican Party headquarters at 629 Boardman-Canfield Road in Boardman.

National Young Republican Chairwoman Lisa Strickan, Ryan Johnson, chairman of the Ohio Young Republicans for the past four years, and Monique Cox-Moore, the lone candidate seeking to replace Johnson when his term expires and the organization’s national committeewoman, will attend.

The suggested donation for the breakfast is $6 with proceeds going toward the Mahoning County Young Republicans’ convention fund. The public is invited to attend.

Regional panel: State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, was appointed by the Ohio House speaker to serve on the Midwestern Legislative Conference Midwest-Canadian Relations Committee for the next two years. The committee works to improve the economic relationship between 11 Midwestern states and four Canadian provinces.

I certainly made a wrong prediction as to who would win the Mahoning County treasurer appointment.

My thought was Kenneth A. Carano, who I described as the “ultimate party insider” in a May 27 column, would likely win by a wide margin even without experience in the financial field.

My reasoning was those voting for a new treasurer were county Democratic precinct committee members. Those positions are held by party insiders who usually vote for one of their own.

Also, interim county Treasurer Dan Yemma, who sought and received the appointment, had angered Party Chairman David Betras a couple of times.

The first was Yemma’s support for a non-endorsed candidate in Struthers against an incumbent endorsed by the party. That led to Betras removing Yemma from the executive committee.

The second incident was far worse. Yemma filed a complaint with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office because Betras decided the vote would be done on a hand-held electronic device rather than paper ballots.

When I told Betras about Yemma’s complaint, he hit the roof, saying it was done because Yemma “feels like he’s going to lose this election.”

Betras also called Yemma the “worst public official in Mahoning County.”

While Betras didn’t endorse Carano, he was very open in his criticism of Yemma before the vote.

(Betras and Yemma met Thursday and “had a wonderful conversation,” the chairman said. “He’s on board with me and I’m on board with him.”)

When the results were posted on a screen after votes were taken, I wasn’t surprised.

One candidate got 142 votes and another got 70. A third candidate, Paul J. Canter, received 5 votes.

I thought, “Two-to-one sounds right.” That is until I looked closer at who received the 142 votes.

Yemma, whose record running for public office is a mixed bag over the past five years, was the winner in a crushing victory over Carano, a proven vote-getter.

How did Yemma win? The answer I received from precinct committee members is he simply outworked Carano.

As for the precinct committee meeting, there were some amusing moments.

It started with Sheriff Randall Wellington attempting to lead the room in the Pledge of Allegiance. He skipped a few lines leaving those in the room mumbling it.

Then Betras said, “I’d like to make a few remarks.” The crowd actually groaned.

During his speech, Betras said the party was kicking off the 2012 re-election campaigns of President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Betras said he recently received a call from Brown, who was flying on Air Force One with the president, thanking him for the Mahoning Valley’s support.

To prove his point, Betras pulled out a tape recorder and played a portion of the call. He actually taped the conversation.

After that, Betras jumped off the stage and nearly fell. Betras said he thought it wasn’t that far down. He was mistaken.

Regarding Yemma’s complaint filed June 2, the secretary of state’s office rejected it Tuesday, a day after the vote.

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