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Mayoral race brings out the daggers

Published: Fri, September 27, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

On the side

GOP needs you: The Mahoning County Republican Party is looking for people interested in running for precinct committee members.

Republicans will have the opportunity to elect committee members in each of the county’s 273 precincts in the May 2014 primary. They form the governing body of the party and are the core group of volunteers to help GOP candidates, said county Republican Chairman Mark Munroe. The newly-elected committee will meet in June 2014 to organize and elect party officers.

Leave your name, address, phone number and email address on the party headquarters’ voice mail at 330-629-7006 if interested.

MVDC picnic: The Mahoning Valley Democratic Club will have a picnic and meeting at the Knoll Run Golf Course, 1421 Struthers-Coitsville Road (State Route 616) from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 5. The club will vote on endorsements of Mahoning County Democrats running in nonpartisan races such as township trustee and school board seats.

The rhetoric used by Mahoning Valley black leaders to criticize Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras is pretty strong.

They said Betras thinks “we are still on the plantation,” and “the days of Kunta Kinte is over. The master doesn’t tell me what to do.”

The reason for the hostility — and not-so-subtle racist accusations — is Betras’ decision to remove three African-Americans — Councilman T.J. Rodgers, D-2nd; Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st; and her husband, former Councilman Artis Gillam Sr. — from the party’s executive committee.

What caused their removal was their support of DeMaine Kitchen, an independent Youngstown mayoral candidate who is black, over John McNally IV, the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate, who is white.

Betras also wants Artis, who uttered the Kunta Kinte-master comment, out as the party’s Youngstown 1st Ward district leader, and has called for Jaladah Aslam, the party’s vice chairwoman of labor relations, who is black, to resign because she won’t publicly support McNally.

Delores T. Womack, the party’s Youngstown 6th Ward district leader, who is black, sent me an email Thursday writing she was “appalled at the behavior of my fellow African-American so-called leaders! All of us have to abide by rules. None of this is about racism!!!!”

In addition to removing the three is the complaint by the black leaders that Betras never told the Gillams and Rodgers that they were off the committee.

Instead, he told me late Thursday when I called to inquire as I saw Betras get angry at the two sitting council members at a mayoral forum. I included it at the end of an article in Friday’s edition on the mayoral debate.

Democratic Party officials not supporting Democrats has been a problem for years.

Past chairmen have tolerated it. Ex-Chairwoman Lisa Antonini went so far as to support the failed campaign of an independent candidate against county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, a Democrat, in 2008.

Betras has tried to stop this. He asked precinct committee members in February to pass party bylaws to remove precinct committee members if they publicly endorse or work for opponents of Democratic candidates. Since some of them do that, the motion was soundly defeated 108-36.

Betras has ousted whites from the executive committee for supporting nonendorsed candidates or independents.

In 2011, Betras removed Dan Yemma as an executive committee member for supporting a nonendorsed candidate for Struthers council. The tension between the two escalated to a public outburst by Betras, who screamed at Yemma, who was eventually chosen by precinct committee members as county treasurer. Betras eventually returned Yemma to the committee.

The executive committee members are selected by Betras, who says he’s appointed more blacks to the group than any other chairman.

While black leaders said Betras should have spoken to the Gillams and Rodgers privately, the chairman said the point was to make it public so people would know that if you serve on the executive committee you must support the party’s endorsed candidates.

To do otherwise defeats the purpose of being on the committee, Betras said.

To Betras, it’s about party loyalty.

To some blacks, it’s about race.

That this has played out in public does nothing but hurt race relations in the area.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

David Betras' favorite character in the novel 'Huck Finn' is Jim the slave.

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2hopscotchwillie(26 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Betras' number one adviser is Magistrate Anthony Sertick.

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

David Betras' starts reading 'Roots' at the last page and finishes up at the first page, because he always tells people that '...he loves a happy ending..."!

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4Minority_Voter(18 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Brothers and sisters we must unite against this racist pig Betras. Protest at his and his wife's business and squeeze this pig until he resigns.

I ask our leader Jaladah Aslam to organize the protests and take over control of the Democratic Party, she is our only hope.

God bless brothers and sisters and see you on the picket line!

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5Roger_Thornhill(1068 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Kind of funny how Dems play this exact type of race card against GOP all the time, but when it happens to Betras he is outraged. Good for him.

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6TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Minority_Voter: Why when Yemma was removed did nobody say it was because he was Italian. If you can tell you shall remain in the minority because the majority of everyone who has commented on this topic sees through the BS.. Is Delores Womack your sister? Is Sly Patton your brother? They are African American and see this garbage for what it is. Why is the removal of these individuals any different from any other time it occurred? Here's the problem, you can't and won't answer that--wanna know why answer is stupid.. By the way, you don't really believe Aslam could win do you? Its about numbers/math and as you've said and shown, you my friend are in the minority.

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7Silence_Dogood(1675 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Brothers and Sisters
We need to unite against the racist pigs Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League, the NAACP’s Youngstown branch, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the mobilization coalition along with the vice president of the Youngstown-Warren Black Caucus, Youngstown Clerk of Courts Sarah Brown-Clark and former city Councilman Artis Gillam Sr.
We need to stop donating money to these groups, we need to stop giving them money on Sundays, forgo the tax write offs and hit these racist where it hurts. We need to picket these groups and squeeze these pigs until they resign. We need to unite behind the High Lord His Royal Highness David Betras the one true Demagogue of Mahoning County Democrats.

Minority Voter you would have to agree that this post is idiotic, would you not? About as stupid as your baseless post.But you can keep race baiting and play your race card all you want, I am sure you will not get very far with it. Betras is a blowhard , but by no means a racist,but keep up the baseless accusations , they are a howl.

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8Minority_Voter(18 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

No brothers and sisters this is not simple politics. This is about a man who thinks he is above God and rules people, and he is not and he does not.

To Mr. TERRAPINST are you sitting on Mr. Betras lap while you wrote your racist comments? Ms. Aslam almost beat Betras last time and she will for sure next time.

I was a precinct committeeman under a real democrat leader, the Bull Moose. He never would have made such racist comments and treated our people like Betras has. But I want to thank the racist Betras for energizing the community to get out the vote for Mr. Kitchen. He will win and when he does he will banish Betras and put him in his place, praise the Lord.

Join us brothers and sisters, we can win this fight and send Betras packing, boycott his and his wife's business forever more Amen.

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9Silence_Dogood(1675 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

The true racist will not answer TERRAPINST's question.

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10Silence_Dogood(1675 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

See how easy it is to throw around the term racist without any foundation. That is why that term is loosing any semblance of meaning anymore. It has been diluted by the race hustlers to the point that anytime something does not go their way they pull out that card and try to use it like a hammer. Well just like the boy who cried wolf, over time no one will listen. Thus diminishing the meaning and when the real event happens no one will want to pay any attention.

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11author50(1121 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Did David Betras like the movie 'Mandingo?'

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12isaac45(412 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

losing losing losing losing losing

Please stop the madness, not loosing!...it's taken over the interwebs

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