By David Skolnick
Another candidate who failed to gain the endorsement of the Mahoning County Democratic Party will quit his race.
Mark G. Klacik of Austintown will withdraw today as a Democratic candidate for county treasurer. That leaves county Treasurer Daniel Yemma without an opponent for the party’s March 6 primary.
No one filed as a Republican for the seat. March 5 is the deadline to file as an independent for the November general election.
When Mahoning Democratic central and executive committee members voted Jan. 7 on an endorsement in this race, Yemma received support from 233 members, or 92.1 percent, compared with 20 members (7.9 percent) for Klacik.
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras said he met recently with Klacik to discuss what is needed to run for a countywide seat.
“It’s a lot of work, time, energy and time away from work,” Betras said he told Klacik. “Also, Mr. Yemma has incredible qualifications for the job.”
Yemma, of Struthers, said, “I was confident and fully prepared to run a campaign. Now that it is out of the way, I can fully concentrate on running the treasurer’s office.”
Since the Democratic endorsement vote Jan. 7, Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker and former Youngstown Councilman Jerry McNally, who both failed to be endorsed, have withdrawn as candidates for county commissioner.
Also, four-term incumbent county Engineer Richard Marsico, who wasn’t endorsed, opted not to seek re-election.
Meanwhile, Youngstown Prosecutor Jay Macejko is demanding county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains agree to participate in a debate being organized by 21 WFMJ-TV, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner.
Both are running in the Democratic primary with Macejko endorsed by the party.
“Your record has repeatedly been called into question,” Macejko wrote in a Tuesday letter to Gains. “You must answer for the outrageous discretionary pay raises that you granted to your entire staff at a time when the nation, the state and Mahoning County were facing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and at a time when deputies are laid off, working under concessions, and portions of the jail remain closed.”
Gains said he hasn’t refused the WFMJ debate proposal and that his campaign is in discussions with the station’s officials about a debate.
Mona Alexander, the station’s news director, said WFMJ has given Gains until Jan. 30 to decide if he’ll participate in the debate, which would take place in mid- to late February.
“I have had some communications with” Gains’ campaign, she said. “They had questions on formatting issues, and I answered them and await their response.”
Gains refused to answer yes or no when asked Tuesday if he would debate.
“My people are in discussions with 21,” he said. “That’s what I pay these people for. It’s not a definitive yes or no.”
When asked again, Gains said, “If I wasn’t going to debate, I wouldn’t be in discussions with FMJ.”
Macejko, who immediately accepted WFMJ’s invitation, said he’s willing to debate Gains “anytime and anywhere to prove that I am the best candidate.”
Gains said he will see Macejko at “numerous community forums and events. I’m not shying away from them.”
Bill Blanchard, Macejko’s campaign coordinator, said many of those public forums are “not a debate, and that’s what we want. Paul is running on his record, and that’s something Jay wants to discuss. It’s something Paul probably doesn’t want to discuss.”
Also, Macejko wrote in Tuesday’s letter to Gains that the prosecutor “must answer why you used faulty statistics in an effort to convince the people of this county that they are safe under your watch.”
In a Tuesday email to The Vindicator, Gains wrote that campaign information he’s distributed that lists 1,405 felony convictions in the county with him as prosecutor is inaccurate.
The correct number is 445.
The 1,405 figure is for “felony termination” and not “convictions,” said Gains, who relied on Richard J. Billak, chief executive officer of the Community Corrections Association, for the data.
Gains said he “immediately notified all personnel to destroy any passouts relying on the” incorrect information.