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A political first?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Published March 7, 2010

Untitled document

The deputy director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections had planned to run for a precinct committee position, but a funny thing happened on her way to the ballot — her petition was rejected.

Joyce Kale-Pesta, whose involvement in the Mahoning County Democratic Party goes back all the way to the early days of the late Don L. Hanni Jr.'s tenure as chairman, has assisted many candidates in filing petitions for office. And yet, when it came to her own, she blew it.

What happened? According to people in the know her petition was defective because it contained signatures of individuals who were not registered to vote. It seemed that Kale-Pesta's husband was circulating the petition and failed to check the names of individuals in the Boardman precinct against a master list of Democratic registered voters maintained by the party.

Such a mistake is not as unusual as it may seem. But when it is the second highest ranking employee in the board of elections office making the rookie error, political tongues tend to wag.

Kale-Pesta's failure to launch her candidacy wasn't the only thing that gave her political indigestion. According to an insider, she left the board of elections office one day last week highly upset after being verbally attacked by Mark Hanni, son of the late chairman. Mark is trying to follow in his father's footsteps by running a slate of candidates for precinct committee positions in the May primary.

He doesn't stand a chance of ousting Chairman David Betras, but he's become enough of an irritant that party insiders are whispering about his wanting a job in return for ending his challenge.

Betras has made it clear that there will be no deal-making. Good for him.

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