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Mahoning County elections director offers to resign

Published: Fri, January 24, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick



Joyce Kale-Pesta, Mahoning County Board of Elections director, offered to resign as a result of fallout from an aborted 3 percent raise for department employees.

Board Chairman Mark Munroe and Vice Chairman David Betras rejected the resignation offer Thursday by Kale- Pesta, a Democrat.

“I reminded Joyce that mistakes were made, the board should have done better, but she’s been a good director and she shouldn’t resign over a bad mistake and the subsequent news about it,” said Munroe, who also is the county Republican Party chairman.

“We made a mistake, we corrected it and we’re moving on,” said Betras, who also is the county Democratic Party chairman. “Her offer to resign and fall on her sword shows she’s a great public servant. She’s an excellent director. There’s not many people who would do what she offered.”

The board voted 4-0 Tuesday to give 3 percent base-pay raises to its 12 employees.

But after conflicting statements in response to questions raised by The Vindicator about the raises, Munroe and Betras said the pay increases were on hold and the board would rescind them at its next meeting.

Kale-Pesta gave the board a recommendation for the pay increases just before that meeting and provided a printout of the salaries of elections directors and deputy directors in other counties that was from 2012 and inaccurate.

She also didn’t do herself any favors when she said when the salary increases were put on hold: “It’s not a raise; it’s a cost-of-living increase. Why shouldn’t I ask for a little 3 percent? I didn’t think it was out of line. I don’t see a 3 percent as a raise. I consider 10 percent a raise. If the board wants to renege on it, it’s their choice. It’s fine with me. I’m fine with my salary.”

Also, county commissioners said they didn’t agree to salary increases for elections board employees — particularly as the county planned to put a new 0.25 percent income tax and make a 0.5 percent existing tax continuous. Kale-Pesta said it was discussed during the board’s budget hearing.

On Thursday, the commissioners agreed not to put the new tax on the May ballot with an eye toward placing it in front of voters in November.

“I offered to resign if the board wants me to do that,” Kale-Pesta said. “If this caused an embarrassment, I apologize. I would never do anything to hurt them or jeopardize the county. It’s unfortunate it happened.”

Kale-Pesta, who’s worked for the board for 26 years, including the last two as director, said she plans to review her status with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System to see what she would receive financially if she retired.

Kale-Pesta and Deputy Director Thomas McCabe are being paid $73,143. Their new annual salaries were to be $75,337 with the raises.

Election employees received 3 percent base-pay salary increases Dec. 1, 2012.

On Jan. 14, 2013, they received an 11.2 percent raise to offset the board’s agreeing the county would no longer pay the workers’ 10 percent portion of their state retirement contribution. The extra 1.2 percent was to offset the workers’ higher tax rate they would pay for making more money.


1formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 9 months ago

Does anyone wonder why the Republican Party is basically dead in Mahoning County when the party chair votes with tax-and-spend Democrats in favor of the 3% salary increase under current economic conditions. Where are the conservative economic principles that many of your party expouse, Mr. Munroe?

Mr. Munroe has no business leading the county Republican Party when he prostitutes himself with Democrats that have destroyed this community over the last 50 years for their own legal and illegal political self-interests. Marc, just resign, join your pal Dave, and let someone else with some guts actually reflect different ideals in the county than your Democratic counterparts.

Better yet, county Republicans, vote the bum out at your upcoming cushy chair election meeting.

Area Republicans that shake their heads and wonder why local Democrats have laughed at Republicans for over 50 years should look in the mirror when they decide who will represent their values over the next four years.

Lastly, congratulations to the Vindy's Dave Skolnick for calling out area politicians on this issue and also on the Ohio Democratic Party charade endorsement of Mrs. Bob Hagan for the 58th House District office.

Bobby should know better than to go over Davey "Kingmaker" Betrus with his Columbus pals. Wouldn't be surprised if the locals dems support someone else in May for the position. Don't mess with the king, Bobby. You're just a fly on the wall waiting to be crushed.

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2republicanRick(1169 comments)posted 9 months ago

This shows poor, poor management skills by both Betras and Monroe. They should have accepted the resignation from Kales-Pesta.

Betras and Monroe show they are more interested in people's feelings than good governance and stewardship of the tax payers money.

If those two politicians cannot make the tough decisions, then they should step aside and let experienced, qualified, gutsy managers do the job.

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 9 months ago

@formerdemliberal If Mark Munroe left the GOP chairmanship (he won't), how would he afford health insurance for himself and his family?

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4dd933(235 comments)posted 9 months ago

I don't know about the justification for a raise for these people but should the Vindicator be making these decisions? Maybe they should just report the news and let the voters decide....just an idea I heard of somewhere.

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5dortalina80(7 comments)posted 9 months ago

Joyce does a great job and she should stay. We have a very important election coming up. In fact, the future of our country could depend on it. Whatever mistake she may have made, she's forgiven. Let's move forward. Like "servpro' says, "Like it never even happened".

However, we could use some fresh blood in the leadership of both parties. Politics are extremely stale in Mahoning County. We're hurting for real, honest-to-goodness inspirational leadership. As the leadership goes, so goes the party.

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