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Mahoning Republicans to likely recommend a Democrat for probate vacancy



Published: Fri, March 21, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)


On the side

Candidates forum: The Union Baptist Church at 528 Lincoln Ave. in Youngstown will be the location of a candidates forum from 6 to 8 p.m. March 31.

Those running for various Mahoning County offices as well as for seats in the state Legislature and the U.S. House that represent the county are invited to attend.

There’s no pause: David Engler, who told me last week he was “not campaigning, but I’m pausing” in his bid for a seat on the 7th District Court of Appeals, is apparently not pressing the pause button anymore. Engler will be the first person coming to The Vindicator for an endorsement interview.

The newspaper’s endorsement interviews, which start Monday, are lively and interesting — though Dennis Mangan, the newspaper’s retired editorial page editor, will be missed as will his probing questions. Video highlights, or lowlights in some cases, of many of the endorsement interviews will be posted on Vindy.com in the coming weeks.

With the resignation of Mark Belinky as Mahoning County Probate Court judge, the county Republican Party will create a committee to recommend three candidates to fill the vacancy.

The final decision rests with Gov. John Kasich, a Republican.

Those seeking to succeed Belinky have until 5 p.m. Thursday to submit required information to the county GOP to be considered.

Belinky, a Democrat, resigned late last Friday and is the subject of a criminal probe by the state.

County Republican Chairman Mark Munroe said the recommended candidates will likely be Democrats.

“It’s doubtful at this point it’s going to be a Republican” replacing Belinky “primarily because we spent so much time exploring possibilities before the” primary filing deadline.

Munroe went as far as to say, “Republicans don’t have a dog in this fight. We tried very hard to find a Republican to run” by the Feb. 5 deadline for primary candidates “and none of our Republican judges” or any other Republicans filed.

But with Belinky’s resignation, the dynamics have changed.

There is no longer an incumbent and the next probate court judge rests in the hands of a Republican governor who will select a replacement from a short list of recommended candidates from a county GOP screening committee.

“The screening committee has been liberated on the political aspect of” appointing a replacement, Munroe said.

Munroe points out that Belinky’s financial problems were well documented before the filing deadline and the party still couldn’t get any Republican to submit nominating petitions for probate court judge.

The independent filing deadline isn’t until May 5, the day before the primary.

George P. Millich Jr. of Austintown, a partner in the law firm of Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell whose areas of practice include probate administration and estate planning, told me at Monday’s Mahoning Valley McKinley Club dinner — a major area Republican event — that he is running as an independent.

Millich is a registered Democrat who resigned his party precinct committeeman post Monday.

While prominent Republicans have given money to independents running for office against Democrats, the party isn’t going to endorse or financially support the person selected by Kasich to succeed Belinky, Munroe said.

The two Democrats in the probate court primary — Susan Maruca and Christopher Sammarone — should consider seeking the governor’s appointment, Munroe said.

County Democratic Chairman David Betras said he’s “skeptical” about Munroe’s statements that the process won’t be political.

“It is designed by the Ohio Constitution to be a political process, and I’m fine with that, but don’t say it’s not political,” Betras said. “If Mark Munroe is serious then he should let the [Democratic primary] happen in May and whoever wins” should be recommended for the appointment.

“Let the voters decide,” Betras said.

Whoever is selected by Kasich will fill out the remainder of Belinky’s term, which expires Feb. 8, 2015, regardless of who wins the November general election.


Comments

1formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week ago

"County Republican Chairman Mark Munroe said the recommended candidates will likely be Democrats."

What is wrong with this statement? A Democratic judge resigns from office with multiple potential felonies hanging over his head. A Republican governor sits in Columbus waiting for a replacement nominee from Mahoning County Republican Party leaders. And the county Republican Party not only punts on any selecting any party candidate, but actually states that it will likely recommend a Democrat for the interim position.

Ordinary county citizens who profess to be Republican should be embarrassed, frustrated, and/or disgusted with what can only appear to be a puppet Republican leadership group who can't convince any qualified probate attorneys to take advantage of a long-known "perfect storm" political opportunity to dent at least one Democratic political stranglehold on this area's public officials. And shame to any Republican attorneys recruited to run for the full-term position prior to Belinky's resignation for not having the guts to stand for their convictions and temporarily sacrifice their lucrative private practices for the opportunity to slightly diversify local government control.

Lately I have been gaining more respect for Mr. Betras for at least actually leading his party troops forward, despite his questionable tactics and the many felons who have masqueraded in the past as city/county officeholders . Despite his rather crude antics, Mr. Betras gets things done, albeit often to the detriment of local government efficiency.

Meanwhile, Mr. Munroe and his Republican Party can keep going to their fashionable dinners and patting each other on their backs for their "contributions" to the county. Maybe Mark Munroe can play the fiddle at one of these events while Mahoning County government continues to crash and burn.

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week ago

There is a Republican Party in Mahoning County?

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3Roger_Thornhill(554 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week ago

Betras said. “If Mark Munroe is serious then he should let the [Democratic primary] happen in May and whoever wins” should be recommended for the appointment.

THIS IS THE PROBLEM!

JUST BECAUSE SOME DOOFUS GETS THE DEMOCRAT PARTY ENDORSEMENT OR WINS THE DEMOCRAT PRIMARY DOES NOT MEAN THAT PERSON IS THE MOST QUALIFIED.

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4TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week ago

The real problem related to this issue is the fact that the political rumors associated with this seat were buzzing for years and STILL Munroe didn't field a challenger. JOKE. Furthermore it is the practice-not exception-that races go un-manned by Republicans within Mahoning County. I mean they don't even try to be flies in the ointment. The ongoing and recent convictions pertaining to Democrat officeholders have created huge liabilities that are never even spoken of by Mr. Munroe or Ms. Winbush or Mr. Butler or Mr. McCabe wanna know why? They prefer the cushy, non-working positions for which they receive salary and cherry benefits. The Republican Party could absolutely gain some traction if they would shine a spotlight on corruption within the County-Valley and the fact that every person involved was a D. To me this is the true corruption-apathy and personal gain.

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