Winner of Mahoning County probate primary raised $104,342

By David Skolnick

and Ed Runyan


Susan Maruca raised $104,342 — about half of it from her personal finances and a credit card — to win the Democratic primary for Mahoning County Probate Court judge.

Christopher Sammarone of Canfield, who lost by 200 votes to Maruca in last month’s primary, raised $82,850, which included a $10,000 personal loan he gave to his failed campaign.

Maruca of Poland lent $39,650 to her campaign, and put $12,195 on a credit card to help fund her primary victory.

Maruca raised $52,497 from donors compared with $72,850 by Sammarone.

Maruca’s outstanding loans total $117,203 with $77,553 of it from her failed 2008 bid to win the Democratic primary for the seat.

Friday was the deadline to file post-primary reports for financial activity between April 17 and June 6. The primary was May 6.

Maruca will face two independent candidates — one of whom will be appointed to fill the open seat soon by Republican Gov. John Kasich — in the November general election.

As of May 6, Maruca had $6,608 in her campaign fund. Her two general-election opponents, Mary Ann Fabrizi of Berlin Center and Robert Rusu of Canfield, didn’t have to file campaign-finance reports by Friday’s deadline because they didn’t run in the primary.

The seat is vacant because Democrat Mark Belinky of Boardman resigned March 14 because of a criminal investigation. He was found guilty May 8 of tampering with records and will be sentenced July 9.

Meanwhile, the Trumbull County Probate Court race also attracted large volumes of campaign money, especially from Patricia Leopardi Knepp of Warren Township, who spent $51,443 during the most-recent period and a total of $104,422.

She lost to James Fredericka, 52 percent to 39 percent. William Flevares finished third with 9 percent of the vote.

Knepp lent her campaign $36,000 in April, May and June and lent the campaign $62,500 during the earlier filing period for a total of $98,500. Throughout her campaign, she had contributions of $14,070.

Fredericka of Warren spent $56,053 during the earlier phase of the campaign and $15,798 during the more-recent filing for a total of $71,851. During the campaign, he received a $10,000 loan from Mary Lou Gamble of Warren and lent his campaign $30,963 of his own money.

Flevares of Warren reported spending $664 in the recent filing and $15,409 earlier for a total of $16,073.

The probate-judge position is open because the current judge, Republican Thomas A. Swift, is retiring because of age limits. No Republican ran in last month’s primary.

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