Tuesday, October 31, 2017
MAHONING COUNTY REPUBLICAN Party Chairman Mark Munroe has thrown a monkey wrench into next Tuesday’s race for Struthers Municipal Court judge.
In so doing, Munroe has tempered our endorsement of Democrat Dominic Leone III for the six-year term.
The GOP chairman told The Vindicator last week the county board of elections, which meets in November, could delve into accusations of wrongdoing by Leone contained in two affidavits filed by his ex-girlfriends.
Munroe also is chairman of the elections board.
County Prosecutor Paul Gains found insufficient evidence to justify further investigation of the women’s claims.
Likewise, the director of the elections board, Joyce Kale-Pesta, reviewed Leone’s campaign finances and found nothing amiss.
Nonetheless, Munroe believes the prosecutor should have launched a follow-up investigation.
The other candidate in the Struthers judicial race is Republican Damian DeGenova, who at one time served as an assistant county prosecutor under Gains.
The four members of the board of elections are: Republicans Munroe and Tracey Winbush; Democrats David Betras and Robert Wasko. Betras is chairman of the county Democratic Party.
GOOD REASON FOR CAUTION
We have good reason for being cautious in our endorsement of Leone. In the May Democratic primary, we were forced to withdraw our support for Atty. Jamie Dunn after it was revealed he had been convicted of vehicular homicide in 1984.
Leone won the Democratic nomination in the spring race and now faces DeGenova, who was unopposed in the GOP primary.
An objective evaluation of each candidate’s resume, especially with regard to his familiarity with the daily operations of the court, gives Leone the advantage.
The Democrat has served as the elected law director/prosecutor of Struthers for the past six years. He has prosecuted over 15,000 cases in the court, which covers Struthers, Poland township and village, New Middletown, Lowellville and Springfield.
DeGenova, who serves as the magistrate in the small claims division of the Struthers Municipal Court, was a city police prosecutor in the 1990s.
Both candidates came across as knowledgeable and thoughtful in their interviews with The Vindicator Editorial Board and offered good ideas on what changes are needed to improve the administration of justice.
But Leone’s hands-on experience in the court makes him the ideal successor to Judge James Lanzo, who is prohibited by the state’s age-limit law from serving another term.