Mahoning Valley races overshadowed by presidential election

By David Skolnick


While there’s a full ballot, Mahoning Valley election officials say the presidential election is attracting nearly all of the attention of voters this year.

The other races as well as tax levies and liquor options on the ballot are overshadowed by the presidential election between Barack Obama, the incumbent Democrat, and Republican Mitt Romney, the election officials say.

“There are some local races that are contested and heated, and voters have big choices to make,” said Adam Booth, director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections. “But that’s not driving turnout. We’re not hearing people saying, ‘I’ve got to get out to vote in the commissioner’s race or for that tax levy.’ Nothing local is driving turnout.”

That’s what happens every four years, the election officials say, pointing to higher turnout in presidential years than other years.

There are supporters actively campaigning outside the Mahoning County Board of Elections in the 7th District Court of Appeals judge and the county commissioner races.

But Joyce Kale-Pesta, the board’s director, said, “It’s pretty much the presidential race” that is driving turnout.

Kelly Pallante, Trumbull County Board of Elections director, tried to be a bit more diplomatic.

“The presidential race is the key component to voting this time, but it’s a very full ballot, and we have a lot of contested races,” she said.

There are contested races in all counties for the state Legislature. Only state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, is running without opposition.

Also, there’s a high- profile race for the U.S. Senate between Sherrod Brown, the Democratic incumbent, and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican nominee, and congressional races.

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