Two Trumbull commissioners win new terms
By Ed Runyan
The two Trumbull County commissioners up for election Tuesday – Dan Polivka and Mauro Cantalamessa – experienced much different opposition in this general election, but the result was the same for both: re-election.
Both men are Democrats, and their victories were part of the Democratic sweep among county officeholders, with all five Republicans losing, including one trying to fill an open seat.
Polivka, who won his fourth four-year term with 50 percent of the vote, was opposed by a Republican newcomer Mary Williams, who got 44 percent. Write-in candidate Todd Johnson, a young Warren pastor, apparently got 6 percent. Election results only list “write-in,” but Johnson was the only write-in.
Williams and Johnson seized on issues brought up in recent months by Commissioner Frank Fuda, a Democrat whose term expires in two years.
Fuda said he found out there were folders with the names of the three county commissioners at the county’s Job and Family Services office, and the people whose applications came through those folders appeared to be getting all of the jobs. Fuda said he had not known previously that the folders existed.
Johnson, a Warren pastor who also worked for the state agency Ohio Means Jobs before running for commissioner, said, “No more should your employment with the county be based on who you know, who you are related to.”
Johnson said he entered the race after the primary partly because of the issues Fuda raised. He felt he had the skills and experience through Ohio Means Jobs and six years in the loan department with a Cleveland bank to bring the county’s hiring practices “into the 21st century.” He’s been a pastor four years.
Williams likewise said Trumbull County has become “the employment agency for certain family and friends.”
Polivka dismissed the criticisms, saying, “You find one person who I’ve said ‘Hire this person.’”
Tuesday night, after enduring a closer race than he would have liked, Polivka called this “the dirtiest campaign I’ve been in during my history.”
But he thanked his supporters, his volunteers, family “and all the people who voted for me,” adding, “A lot of good things are on the horizon.”
Cantalamessa, meanwhile, running for his first full term as commissioner after filling the unexpired term of Paul Heltzel two years ago, was opposed by Republican James Priester, who didn’t respond to requests for information except to fill out a questionnaire saying “politicians and public employees are not responding well to public concerns.”
Cantalamessa got 60 percent of the vote.
“Now to be entrusted with some of the vision of this county is humbling,” he said.
The Republicans lost all of the races they entered for county positions this fall, though they fielded more candidates than normal in the heavily Democratic Trumbull County.
Debra Roth was among those with the best chance at winning, as she ran for the open seat as county recorder against Democrat Tod Latell, who received 57 percent of the vote.
Longtime Trumbull County recorder Diana Marchese chose not to run for another term.
The other Republicans opposed incumbent Democrats. Deborah Bowles opposed incumbent Democrat Karen Infante Allen for clerk of courts, but Infante Allen got 61 percent of the vote. And Syreana Harris opposed longtime incumbent Sam Lamancusa for treasurer, with Lamancusa getting 66 percent of the vote.