Betras, Sammarone exchange words over Tressel comment

YOUNGSTOWN — The war of words is escalating between Christopher Sammarone, a Democrat running for Mahoning County Probate Court judge, and the county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras.

And the war is over two words — “a leader” — who said it and when.

Sammarone’s campaign literature prominently uses the words attributed to Jim Tressel, who was the candidate’s football coach at Youngstown State University in the early 1990s. Sammarone addressed the issue at a press conference today.

The two words are part of a longer quote from Tressel in the Aug. 21, 1994, edition of The Vindicator in which the coach praises the leadership qualities of Sammarone.

Betras said it’s deceptive to use a 20-year-old-plus comment in a political ad about a candidate’s college football days.

“It’s clear to me it’s meant to imply Tressel is endorsing him,” Betras said. “Put it in context.”

The county party is backing Susan Maruca, Betras’ former law partner, for probate court.

But Sammarone said he’s “disappointed in Betras and Mrs. Maruca that they would attempt to discredit my campaign by attacking a time in my life that is precious to me” and Tressel, who he called a “mentor, friend and coach.”

For the complete story, read Thursday’s Vindicator and

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