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Betras targets errant Dems



Published: Fri, November 30, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)


On the side

Valley delivers for Obama: With provisional votes counted, President Barack Obama did even better in the Mahoning Valley.

Obama’s election-night percentage in Mahoning County was 63.06. With provisionals counted, he jumped to 63.52 percent. Also, total voter turnout in the county increased from 70.07 percent to 72.2 percent.

In Trumbull County, Obama, the incumbent Democrat, ended up getting 60.48 percent of the vote after provisional ballots were counted. He had 60.08 percent of the vote on election night. Turnout in Trumbull ended up being 67.81 percent, an increase from 65.79 percent on election night.

Obama still lost in Columbiana County, but did good enough with provisional voters that his final percentage increased from 42.79 percent on election night to 42.9 percent. Turnout in Columbiana was 70.07, up from 68.58 percent before provisionals were counted.

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras doesn’t want a repeat performance from the Nov. 6 general election that saw members of the party’s central committee and elected officers openly endorse a Republican for judge.

If you’re an elected officer of the party, such as a vice president or secretary, or a precinct committee member who supports candidates not endorsed by the party, there is no way to remove that person from his/her position. (Betras can remove members of the party’s executive committee at will; as chairman, he appoints all members to that committee.)

Betras will propose a party constitutional amendment to establish a small group that would have the power to remove central committee members and elected officers, including the chairman, from their positions for supporting candidates who are facing those endorsed by the party.

The plan is to consider it for a vote when the party’s central and executive committees meet in February to endorse candidates, including Youngstown mayor, for the May primary.

“I understand people can’t support some people,” Betras said. “I ask them to sit it out or be subject to being removed.”

Democrats in each of the county’s precincts elect members to the central committee while elected party officeholders — not to be confused with officeholders for county positions such as auditor or prosecutor — are chosen by those on the central and executive committees.

Betras said he’s checked with the state party, and if the local party amends its constitution, it can remove those people from their elected positions.

Of note is Jaladah Aslam, the county party’s vice chairwoman of labor relations, who backed Judge Mary DeGenaro in her successful re-election a few weeks ago for a seat on the 7th District Court of Appeals.

Judge DeGenaro, who received the backing of several local labor unions and organizations, was the Republican nominee for the seat.

Aslam also appeared in a commercial for Judge DeGenaro.

But under the local Democratic Party’s bylaws, there’s nothing that can be done to remove a person from an elected party position or as precinct committee person for backing the opponent of an endorsed Democratic candidate.

Mark Hanni, who’s burned bridges over the year with local Democrats and Republicans, was the Democratic nominee and endorsed candidate for the position.

In Ohio, many judicial races, including those for the court of appeals, are partisan political primaries and nonpartisan general elections.

“People say, ‘It’s nonpartisan,’ but we know that’s not the case,” Betras said.

There were also two precinct committee members who openly endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for president.

“I doubt any members of the Republican central committee endorsed Barack Obama,” Betras said.

It’s not just this election that’s been a problem.

In 2008, then-Democratic Chairwoman Lisa Antonini openly endorsed and supported Marty Yavorcik, an independent, in his failed effort to beat county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, the Democratic incumbent.

In the 2010 primary, there were precinct committee members who worked for then-county Commissioner David Ludt, who lost the party’s endorsement — and primary — to Carol Rimedio-Righetti.


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