Black leaders blast Betras for ousting 3 party executive committee members

YOUNGSTOWN — Local black leaders, surrounded by about 100 supporters, this afternoon blasted the decision by David Betras, the Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman, David Betras, to remove three blacks from the party's executive committee.

Betras said he did so because the three are supporting DeMaine Kitchen, a black independent candidate in the mayor's race, instead of John McNajlly, the party's endorsed mayoral candidiate.

The speakers criticized Betras for the tactics for humiliating the three by ousting them from the committee. The three — Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, her husband, Artis Gillam, a former councilman, and Councilman T.J. Rodgers — learned about their ouster after reading it in last week's Vindicator.

The Rev. Kenneth L. Simon, chairman of the Community Mobilization Coalition, said that Betras' "attacks, threats and bullying" were not only inappropriate but brought about a division in the party.

For the complete story, read Thursday's Vindicator and

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