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Oddballs plague Mahoning County politics



Published: Fri, March 7, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)


On the side

Boards of elections: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted reappointed two members each to the boards of elections in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

Each term is for four years, and Husted makes his decisions based on recommendations of executive committees of county political parties.

Those reappointed include: Republican Mark Munroe and Democrat Robert Wasko in Mahoning County, Republican Kathi Creed and Democrat Mark Alberini in Trumbull, and Republican James Beardsley and Democrat Larry Bowersock in Columbiana.

Endorsement meeting: The Mahoning Valley Democratic Club meeting to endorse candidates for the primary — the “You pay you play!” column from last week — is 7 p.m. Monday at Bogey’s Riverside Banquet Hall, 3404 New Castle Road in Lowellville.

The meeting was supposed to be last Monday.

It’s been an unusual week for local politics — even by Mahoning County standards.

Two Democratic candidates, who said less than two weeks ago they would withdraw from the May 6 primary ballot, are still on the ballot.

One of them, Atty. David Engler, a candidate for a seat on the 7th District Court of Appeals, may change his mind eventually, saying he’s “pausing” his candidacy.

The other, Robert F. Hagan, said he will remain on the ballot for the 33rd District state central committeeman race because he didn’t get out in time to have his name removed from the ballot.

Hagan still has time to withdraw, but won’t because boards of elections in Mahoning and Columbiana counties would have to pay for notices at each polling location and send letters with each absentee ballot request stating he’s no longer a candidate. Also, those notices and letters could create voter confusion, he said, as his wife is running for an Ohio House seat.

Then there’s Pete Ceci who was tossed from the ballot as a Mahoning County commissioner candidate after the board of elections invalidated one of his nominating petitions.

The person who got the signatures testified she didn’t witness the number of signatures in the “circulator’s affidavit” portion of the document. That’s a fatal error leaving Ceci four signatures short of the 50 required to be a candidate.

Two witnesses subpoenaed to testify at Ceci’s hearing didn’t initially show. Joseph Rafidi, who was helping Ceci get signatures, didn’t attend because of a shoulder or arm injury and told a board official he was heavily medicated.

Two other witnesses, including Danielle M. Hamill, whose testimony killed Ceci’s campaign, showed up nearly two hours late. Hamill and Ernest Beachman were in Ashtabula with a flat tire causing the delay.

If they didn’t show, I doubt the board would have disqualified Ceci as there was not enough evidence besides Hamill’s testimony to kick him off.

In an email after the hearing, Ceci wrote to me: “It is business as usual in Mahoning County. And we can do better and deserve better in Mahoning County. When our political figures do what’s best for a chosen few, it leaves the county as a whole out!!”

About 90 minutes before the email, Ceci was offering to help the campaign of his former opponent, Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti.

As for Engler, like Hagan, he told county Democratic committee members on Feb. 22 that he was withdrawing. But he told me Wednesday that he was “not campaigning, but I’m pausing because I’ve heard some troubling information about the judicial races.”

What troubling information? Engler isn’t sharing, but the not-so-subtle accusations are leveled at county Democratic Chairman David Betras.

Betras, who is completely out of patience for Engler, said: “I can’t trust anything he says, nor can the voters.”

Anthony Donofrio, the other Democrat in that court of appeals primary, said he is “baffled by the whole thing.” He’s not alone.

Finally, Hagan said last week that he supported his opponent, Brandon Kovach, urged others to support Kovach, but he missed a deadline to get his name off the ballot so he is remaining a candidate.

Kovach expects Hagan, a longtime state legislator, to win the race and hopes his opponent would withdraw if that happens, and allow him to fill the seat.

Hagan said, “That’s something we can talk about after. That’s so far down the line, I’m not going to talk about it.”

Kovach tried to restrain himself, but sent me a message on Facebook about Hagan that reads: “He took it for granted [being endorsed]. I don’t know why it would matter to him all of a sudden. But people are tired of these kind of things, I’m tired of these kind of things.”


Comments

1formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Davey B, you reap what you sow.

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Everyone deserves ballot access if they play by the rules. Mr. Ceci did not and the board did the right thing in bouncing him. He probably had Holly Hanni running his campaign.

Now if Chairman Betras is mad at Mr. Engler for not getting off the ballot, why isn't he mad at Mr. Hagan? Mr. Kovach defeated Mr. Hagan the hard way - - by the vote of the precinct people. Kinda makes the Chairman a man of a double standards, then again, to us who know him well -- he is!

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3Joe6pack(51 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Isn't this fun, we have the darker side, Engler/Hanni, going after the dark side, Betras.

What we need is for all of these people who only have their own interests in mind to go away. They are all bad, many soon to be indicted.

Let's hope the BCI/FBI investigation will clean house which will enable our community to move forward with new people in public office and the Democratic Party.

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4seventotal(16 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

If you did not know any better, and the names were changed, you would think you were reading an article and comments form the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, or the 2000's. Better yet, come back in the 2020's, 2030's, 2040's, 2050's, and the 2060's and you will see the same article again, with different names, and the same comments. Human nature does not change!

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5candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

let's pretend...E is a employee of B and thinks he needs to quit before B can fire him...he gives his two week notice...B lies to E when he tells E he was the best employee ever and would hire him again...he makes E work thru lunch for two weeks...E will never go back to work for him...the Feds know B will want to settle the score with E and "do anything" to get him...E is hired back by B and B fires him.

Suggest removal:


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