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A drag on Democratic Party ticket

Published: Sun, August 31, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

What do Ed FitzGerald and Michael Sciortino have in common, apart from being Democrats running in the November general election? They’re political pariahs in the eyes of other Democrats seeking election in Ohio this year.

FitzGerald, as the party nominee for governor, is the head of the statewide Democratic ticket, and thus, as he goes, so goes the slate. And, FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County executive and former mayor of Lakewood, is going down fast. In the last several weeks, there have been media revelations about his past that have some Democrats singing, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”

Sciortino, auditor of the county and former director of the county board of elections, has the distinction of seeking re-election this year while facing criminal charges. Among the numerous charges brought by special prosecutors in the state case is this one: participating in a criminal conspiracy to undermine county government’s business.


Sciortino is so damaged that other Democrats seeking election in Mahoning County don’t want to have anything to do with him.

Indeed, party Chairman David Betras tried several times to get him out of the race, but the county auditor remains defiant.

There is a silver lining in Sciortino’s sordid political tale — for the Republicans, that is.

The normally uninspiring, insipid Mahoning County Republican Party has found a real-live certified public accountant to challenge the Democrat.

But what will endear Ralph T. Meacham of Lake Milton to thoughtful, fair-minded voters is the fact that he has 35 years of financial management experience in the private sector. In other words, he hasn’t been slopping at the public trough for most of his working life — as Sciortino has done.

And here’s the icing on the political cake for a sizable number of voters in the county: Meacham was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ chief financial officer from 1988 to 1991.

So, why is it important to have a certified public accountant in the position of county auditor? Because George J. Tablack, whose political roots run deep in the Democratic Party, established that standard for what had historically been a position filled by a Democratic Party hack.

When Tablack ran for the office in 1986, he based his campaign on this simple proposition: The individual whose primary responsibility is preparing county government’s budgets and assigning taxes to properties must know more than just how to add and subtract.

Tablack brought a level of professionalism and knowledge to the job that was unprecedented. His predecessor was the late Stephen R. Olenick, a political insider if ever there was one. Sciortino is following in Olenick’s footsteps.

So, how does the auditor counter his Republican challenger’s credentials and private-sector work experience?

He can boast about the 16 felony charges filed against him for his role in the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal-conspiracy case brought by Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, a Republican. Also charged are Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally, for his involvement when he was a county commissioner, and Atty. Martin Yavorcik.

As for the Ohio Democratic Party’s candidate for governor, FitzGerald’s failure to get a permanent Ohio driver’s license while he was mayor of Lakewood, and his being found in a car with a woman — not his wife — in Cleveland early in the morning during his tenure as mayor have literally derailed the campaign.

Media’s focus

Democatic candidates for other statewide offices who believe Republican incumbents are vulnerable because of various questionable actions are having a difficult time being heard over the FitzGerald cacophony.

The bottom line is that the state Democratic Party’s leadership failed to uncover his past problems when they were vetting him.

It’s also inconceivable that a former FBI agent would not have instinctively known that the information would come out during the campaign.

With two months before the general election, the Mahoning County and Ohio Democratic parties must find a way to work around the political pariahs, FitzGerald and Sciortino.

County Chairman Betras and state Chairman Chris Redfern are sporting forced smiles these days.


1Roger_Thornhill(1068 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

"Sciortino is so damaged that other Democrats seeking election in Mahoning County don’t want to have anything to do with him."


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2questionreality(736 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

“When Tablack ran for the office in 1986, he based his campaign on this simple proposition: The individual whose primary responsibility is preparing county government’s budgets and assigning taxes to properties must know more than just how to add and subtract.”

Absolutely. They and the county treasurer need to work tirelessly to recover delinquent property taxes from those who have managed to immunize themselves from paying them(such as the man at the controls of Vindy radio or the one who who had a letter regarding the anti-fracking issue in last Sunday’s Vindicator). Until then, the entire cost burden of running county government is not imposed equally and any claimed shortage results in an annoying pitch to increase the sales tax.

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3YtownParent(1070 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

ditto ?reality. To that I would add the importance of trust in the auditor's office. Sciortino ruined the public's trust in him all on his own with his little drunk driving episode. Oakhill is just the icing on the layers of lies Sciortino's baked in office. Sciortino threw the public trust away and it's cost the county even more money by those who've questioned what was previously taken on trust.

For example, Most people, myself included, tend to patronize the same businesses. So it's rare that someone would notice a dependency between the pumps at one gas station versus another. I noticed that $20 of gas @ $3.399 a gallon doesn't seem to get the same amount of gas at every station in Mahoning county. Funny that all 3-4 gas stations in Trumbull county our family's used over the past couple months give out the same amount of gas when the price per gallon is the same. So we don't spend our money in Mahoning county for anything and we won't until a trustworthy individual is checking the weights and measures.

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4andersonathan(687 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Mahoning County get what you pay for [sarcasm] And end up looking like the party that has been in control for decades. And this happens all over the country when a party controls a area [city, county, state] for long periods of time that area will look like their political views and become that. And the little tid bits of hope and improvement is nothing more than a shiny tin star so they can show the public they did something to stay in power. That also soon fades and rusts till the natives get restless.

And this shows a prime example of a mouth piece with no power [Betras]

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5Roger_Thornhill(1068 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

It is too late to replace Sciortino on the ballot so Betras clearly is not continuing to look for a candidate to replace Sciortino.

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6CongressWatcher(225 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Mike, Mike, Mike (ytownboy22),

I agree with Betram on both accounts. I hope the voters finally correct your situation for you.


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7republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Kasich winning again and Republicans sweeping national victory in November will get country and economy finally back on track after 8 years of inept Obama reign.

Look out over paid and underworked government employees. Your day of reckoning is coming soon.

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