Published August 1, 2010
The indictment of Auditor Michael Sciortino is giving Democratic Party leaders night sweats. Sciortino, who told The Vindicator during his endorsement interview in the May primary that he would not resign if indicted, is sticking to that position. Indeed, party Chairman David Betras has tried on several occasions to persuade the five-year auditor that his re-election in November is no longer guaranteed.
Betras is hoping that public reaction to the 73-count indictment against Sciortino, Commissioner John A. McNally IV, former Treasurer John Reardon, former Job and Family Services Director John Zachariah, Atty. Martin Yavorcik and Cafaro Co. owners Anthony M. Cafaro Sr. and his sister, Flora, will hit home.
But the party is in a race against time. If Sciortino steps down now, the executive committee would have submit the name of a replacement on the ballot by 4 p.m. Aug. 9. That does not give Betras and the leadership team a lot of breathing room.
Should the officeholder resign? The answer is yes — because if he remains on the ballot and loses, one of two individuals will be auditor: Republican Tracey Winbush or Independent Joe Markovitch. Neither has first-hand experience with county government finances and neither has served in any positions of power in Mahoning County government.
The ideal candidate would be a certified public accountant with an understanding of public sector budgeting. The party would be expected to seek someone of that caliber to replace the Democratic nominee.
Prior to his becoming auditor, Sciortino, a lawyer, was director of the county board of elections.
His position today is tenuous, at best. However, there are supporters telling him that the indictment is not politically fatal. He needs to consider what’s in the best interest of Mahoning County.