Five candidates are seeking the vacant Mahoning County Probate Court seat
By David Skolnick
Two candidates in the Democratic primary for the Mahoning County Probate Court judicial seat along with three attorneys seeking to run as independents for the job applied to fill the vacant position.
The five filled out applications with 55 questions and submitted them by Thursday’s deadline to the county Republican Party to be considered by a local screening committee that will recommend at least three of them to Gov. John Kasich, also a Republican, said Mark Munroe, county GOP chairman.
The candidates are: Susan Maruca, Christopher Sammarone, George P. Millich Jr., Mary Ann Fabrizi and Robert N. Rusu.
Maruca, endorsed by the county Democratic Party, will face Sammarone in the May 6 Democratic primary.
Millich and Fabrizi are circulating petitions to run for the seat as independents. Rusu said he will start circulating petitions shortly to run as an independent.
The filing deadline to get on the November ballot as an independent is May 5.
Independent candidates need 855 valid signatures on nominating petitions to get on the November general election ballot.
Mark Belinky, under criminal investigation by the state, resigned as probate court judge March 14.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation listed on Feb. 7 search warrants of Belinky’s Boardman house and his then court office in Youngstown that charges against him could include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records, bribery, money laundering, theft and theft in office.
The county Republican Party screening committee membership should be finalized shortly and will have seven or eight people on it, Munroe said.
The committee will interview each of the five candidates separately either in one day or two, depending on everyone’s schedule, he said.
The committee will then recommend “at least three” candidates to Kasich, who makes the final decision on who will replace Belinky.
Whoever is selected by the governor will fill out the remainder of Belinky’s term, which expires Feb. 8, 2015, regardless of who wins the November general election.