Betras backs Kale-Pesta for Mahoning Democratic leader

By David Skolnick


David Betras, whose resignation as Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman took effect Wednesday, is throwing his support behind Joyce Kale-Pesta as his successor.

Kale-Pesta, the party’s first vice chairwoman/secretary, took over as Democratic leader Wednesday on an interim basis as per the party’s bylaws.

But Kale-Pesta, who is also the director of the county board of elections, says she wants the party to elect her when its central committee members meet June 11 to vote for Betras’ replacement.

“I’m endorsing her,” Betras said of Kale-Pesta. “She has the experience, the organizational skills; she wants to do it. It will be a smooth transition.”

Also, Christopher Anderson, the party’s political director, wrote on Twitter he is endorsing Kale-Pesta as she “will help us unite a fractured party while putting an emphasis on building for the future.”

Kale-Pesta said she is interested in running the party on a temporary basis through the 2020 presidential election.

Betras’ unexpired term runs through June 2022.

Kale-Pesta has worked at the elections board for 31 years, including the past seven as director.

The deadline to apply for the chairmanship is June 7.

The party’s central committee will meet at 6 p.m. June 11 at St. Luke’s Church Hall, 5235 South Ave., Boardman, to vote for a new chairman.

Kenneth Carano, the party’s elections chairman, said as of Wednesday no one has applied for the position or called him to inquire about it.

On Monday, less than a week after announcing he’d run for chairman, Robert F. Hagan, a former 28-year state legislator, said he would not seek the position.

Betras, first elected chairman April 27, 2009, to fill an unexpired term, was re-elected in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

He said he resigned to devote more time to his family and law practice.

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