By Ed Runyan
The agenda for the Aug. 27 meeting of the Ohio Democratic Party Executive Committee won’t be released until next week, but a discussion about removing Dan Polivka as chairman of the Trumbull County Democratic Party will be on it.
“Rest assured, it will be on the agenda,” Chris Redfern, state party chairman, said by phone Friday. “I will be offering up a resolution that removes Chairman Polivka until the bylaws are changed and a revote is taken,” Redfern said.
Redfern threatened to remove Polivka as chairman after the county party voted in secret recently to elect Mauro Cantalamessa to fill the unexpired term of Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel, who died June 30.
Polivka said he felt the method used was fine because one vote for Cantalmessa at the end was done by voice, which meets the state and national requirements. Two earlier votes to narrow down the field were by secret ballot, which agrees with the county party’s bylaws.
Cantalamessa was sworn in Monday as county commissioner, to serve until the results of the November election are certified. Cantalamessa’s Republican opponent is J.D. Williams.
Polivka did not return a text message Friday seeking comment, but he has said in the past he will attend the state meeting to tell his side of the story. He said he’s been unable to find anything in the state bylaws that allow for his removal.
Redfern countered that “all duties are not defined” in the state bylaws.
“I will give Dan a chance to be recognized” and speak, Redfern said. “A public vote will be taken.”
Polivka’s remark earlier this week that he had appointed a committee to study the bylaws of other county parties in an effort to resolve the conflict with the state party isn’t relevant and isn’t changing his mind about asking for Polivka’s removal, Redfern said.
The state chairman said he cannot know about every county party that violates the state or national bylaws, but he’s not aware of any other county in Ohio that is voting by secret ballot as Trumbull did.
Some county parties haven’t needed to vote for a replacement in recent years and therefore haven’t had to decide. That is the case for Columbiana County, which Polivka said was voting in secret, Redfern said.
The state chairman said the dispute between the county and state parties is unproductive, “but we [state party] didn’t do this. I didn’t break the rules. I have no regret. I have a duty.”
The state Executive Committee meeting, which is open to the public, will take place at 7 p.m. at the party headquarters, 340 E. Fulton St.