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Gains’ re-election is not guaranteed

Published: Fri, January 13, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

On the side

Political surprise: I was somewhat surprised that the Mahoning County Democratic Party strongly endorsed Patrick Ginnetti over 16-year incumbent county Engineer Richard A. Marsico.

In last week’s column I wrote that Marsico was likely to be endorsed, but it could be close. It wasn’t. Ginnetti soundly defeated Marsico 173-to-79.

More than enough members of the Democratic precinct and executive committees were concerned with Marsico’s age, overstaying his welcome in elected office and the $70,242 in salary increases he gave his staff last year.

Rejected by the local Democratic establishment — despite being one of the top financial contributors to the party among sitting officeholders — Marsico had no choice but to pull out of the March 6 primary.

Marsico hasn’t had a challenger since 2000. He would have struggled to run a successful campaign not only without the support of the party, but with the party opposing him.

Seeking his fifth four-year term as Mahoning County prosecutor, Paul J. Gains is in the political fight of his life.

A major blow to his campaign came Saturday when he lost the county Democratic Party’s central and executive committees endorsement to Youngstown Prosecutor Jay Macejko, 145 to 108.

Gains said, “I believe [the endorsement is] important,” but he’s not getting out of the race. He mentioned David Ludt, a three-term county commissioner, voted out of office two years ago. Then-Youngstown Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti, the party’s endorsed candidate, won the primary and general election.

It appears that the county’s Democratic clubs and local labor unions will follow the party’s lead and endorse Macejko. The Austintown Democratic Club did just that Wednesday, endorsing every party-endorsed candidate.

There are other benefits to being endorsed including access to the Ohio Democratic Party voter database, running a coordinated campaign with other endorsed candidates, and the ODP’s heavily discounted bulk-mail rate.

Typically, turnout in primaries during presidential-election years are much higher than other years, but it won’t be in March.

President Barack Obama is running unopposed and there are no contested Democratic statewide races.

That means the party faithful will make up a larger percentage of the electorate in the primary than usual for county officeholders running in presidential-election years.

Failing to get the party’s endorsement led county Engineer Richard Marsico, a 16-year incumbent, to not seek re-election. Also, Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker withdrew from the primary for a county commissioner seat after not getting the party’s endorsement.

Regarding Gains, Mahoning County Democratic Chairman David Betras criticized the prosecutor for giving about $220,000 in raises to his staff last year. (Gains isn’t giving raises, except step increases, to his staff this year.)

“What’s happened to officeholders who’ve been in office for 16 to 20 years is they’ve become insensitive to what the people want,” he said. “They think they’re unbeatable. They confuse an election with a coronation.”

Gains disagreed with Betras’ assessment saying, “I’ve never thought I was unbeatable.” Gains said he isn’t upset by Betras’ comments because he “has to do that because he’s party chairman.”

Gains said the decision to grant raises “was a business decision, but a bad political decision. I remained within my budget and returned about $8,000 to the general fund.”

Without the raises, Gains said four attorneys in his office would have likely left. Even with the raises, Gains said his attorneys are paid less than their counterparts in Youngstown and Trumbull County.

Gains has faced criticism about mistakes made by his office, but said the errors were unintentional.

Macejko may also face criticism after Youngstown had to settle a lawsuit two months ago with an assistant city prosecutor, who filed a federal religious- and ethnic-discrimination civil suit.

Bassil Ally, a Muslim of Middle Eastern decent, received a lump sum of $110,000 from the city and a $4,000 annual pay raise. As part of the settlement, Macejko, Ally’s supervisor, had to write a letter of apology. No settlement money came from the city prosecutor.


1AtownAugie(891 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Mr Betras said "What’s happened to officeholders who’ve been in office for 16 to 20 years is they’ve become insensitive to what the people want [and eventually] confuse an election with a coronation.” Good point, Mr Chairman. Please remind Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi of this: each has been in office since 1987 -- well past your 16-to-20 year range. Thank you in advance for telling them -- and for being consistent.

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2Youngstown_Strong(91 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Bottom line is Paul Gains was the only man in his era to stand up against the mob and by taking a bullet for it on Christmas Eve, his survival led to the eventual downfall of mob control in the Mahoning Valley.

Betras sounds like Strollo.

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3Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

I don't think it is that simple. I think that is a Reader's Digest version of a romanticized account, but again, I don't think it is as simple as that.

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4watchingthepolitics(100 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Oh brother here we go AGAIN, hey I took a bullet for you guys.

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5mrbluesman(6 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Right, watchingthepolitics, because so many politicians have actually taken a bullet. I mean, you really think that's just a common thing. Organized crime tried to kill him to prevent him from taking office because they knew he was honest and couldn't be bought. You shouldn't demean that or play it down. You want to criticize Gains for having failings as an administrator or whatever, fair enough, but you have no right to make light of the fact that he was shot to prevent him from taking office.

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6dennycrain(22 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

I do not support Paul Gains but I will vote for him because he is NOT a FEDERALLY DOCUMENTED RACIST and BIGOT like jay macejko! "The Discriminator" cost the city of Youngstown $160,000.00! Google Attorney Basil Ally and get disgusted at the RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION macejko did to Ally!

Read Mahoning Case # 2011CV1291....ANOTHER macejko VICTIM!

My name is Rick Berger and I approve of this message! And, I am a MCDP precinct committeeman and proud of it!

I am INSULTED that the MCDP endorsed a FEDERALLY DOCUMENTED RACIST BIGOT and let down ALL the citizens of Mahoning County !

"Make a Difference" Semper Fi!

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7dennycrain(22 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

PEOPLE! Can't deal with the TRUTH?

Rick Berger!

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8pdiddy(1 comment)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

I've know Gaines for most of my life. He seeks justice in a town where it can be skewed. He's not afraid of the so-called tough guys that thought they ran this town. He's proven time and time again that he won't give into corruption he fights against it. He did't take one bullet he took 3 and lived to continue the fight againt Soprano wanna be's. He's honest as the day is long and has Youngstowns best interest in all his affairs. Youngstown needs Paul Gains a whole lot more than Paul Gains needs Youngstown.

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9Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Until the ex-girlfriend of one of the hitters called in a tip, Paul Gains and the FBI had absolutely nothing in the way of leads on that case on Christmas Eve 1996.

I respect Paul for taking a few bullets, but at the end of the day he got lucky in both the hit job and the fact a lead turned up out of nowhere.

The FBI was ultimately what got the Mob here in Mahoning County, and it was pretty much in spite of themselves. Assuming we all believe the Mob actually left here, because I think that is up for debate.

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10Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Personally, I think if the Mob came back, most people would walk in stride right behind them again. It makes me sad to say that, but we haven't come that far in 10 years.

What is even more unfortunate is when the FBI did clean house, we traded one brand of criminal for another. At least when the Mob was here, the violence we have seen in the city of Youngstown was not nearly what it has become today.

If crime has become better or worse is a matter of opinion, but I'm not necessarily sure we traded up when we cleaned house judging by the crime situation we face ourselves with now.

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11whit1980(10 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

There should be an entire article about how horrible it is that the democratic party endorsed a racist for prosecutor-Jay Macejko. But the democratic party chair is Dave Betras who also firmly endorse Marc Dann and look how he disgraced our community. Jay Macejko has 6 employees as city prosecutor and 2 of them have brought discrimination suits and 1 has already been resolved in favor of the employee. He's making victims of his staff when he's supposed to be protecting victims of crime. I'll vote for whoever the Democratic party and Dave Betras DOESN'T endorse.

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12dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

whit1980 - I agree with you that I will vote for whoever the Dems don't endorse.

questions for the wannabe:

Why did you NOT prosecute a case where a woman stole money from her union, had the city prosecutor's wife as their attorney, and justice has NOT been served for the valley. Generally when there are missing funds, that person has some sort of prosecution or retribution owed to those harmed.

Can someone explain what's gone on here?

Also, whatever Mr. Gains does AFTER hours is not the public's business. He is entitled to a private life too.

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