Polivka remains Trumbull Dems chairman, addresses criticisms
By Ed Runyan
Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka was selected to serve another four years as Trumbull County Democratic Party chairman, but he first addressed criticism of “the way we make decisions.”
Polivka, who has been chairman since 2011 and was unopposed Tuesday, said, “The truth is everyone in this party is welcome to an opinion, and I’ve always welcomed that.”
Polivka came under fire for a full-page Democratic Party advertisement before the primary that was described as inaccurate and the party’s process for selecting a replacement coroner after Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk died.
“They can find dissent anywhere, any organization, but I think you are unified, and we are all working together to move forward in November,” Polivka said.
Polivka said he likes the track record the party has had in recent years.
“I’m proud to say as chairman, with your help, we have maintained in the courthouse – all Democrats elected. We have maintained the County Administration Building – all Democrats elected.”
In addition to party chairman, the two other top positions also were unopposed – Kathy DiCristofaro of Niles was selected to serve a second term as vice chairwoman, and Karen Zehr of Howland was chosen secretary to replace former Niles mayor Ralph Infante, who went to prison last month after being convicted of 22 criminal charges.
Jeff Goodman, the party’s legal adviser, gave The Vindicator the answer Tuesday about a controversy that arose at the May 23 meeting to select Dr. Thomas James over Dr. Phillip Malvasi as Dr. Germaniuk’s replacement.
The party’s central committee members voted to immediately destroy the paper ballots cast that night, apparently out of fear of retaliation by party leaders for how committee members voted.
The vote was conducted with paper ballots on which the voter made his or her choice. The voter’s name was on the other side of the ballot.
The ballots were not destroyed, however, and Polivka took them home with him. Before taking the ballots, Polivka spoke with Bill Demora, Ohio Democratic Party secretary. Demora could be heard telling Polivka and others over the speakerphone the ballots could not be destroyed under Ohio law, and Demora promised to provide further documentation at a later time.
Goodman said, however, state party officials indicated later there was no legal reason the ballots could not be destroyed that night.
Spokesmen from the state party, Ohio Secretary of State’s office and Trumbull County Board of Elections all told The Vindicator on Monday and Tuesday they did not know whether it was legal to destroy the ballots.