There’s a reason that each county board of elections in Ohio is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans: Checks and balances. The system is designed to ensure that one political party does not control the operation or the conduct of elections. It is also designed to prevent collusion.
But in Mahoning County, "comity" appears to the operating principle, and that can be a problem. The four members, Democrats Michael Morley and Robert Wasko and Republicans Clarence Smith and Mark Munroe, have been too willing to go along and get along.
However, change may be on the horizon. Morley is stepping down and will be replaced by county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, who has been critical of the way the board has conducted the people’s business.
He believes, as do many long-time observers of elections in Mahoning County, that accountability on the part of the employees has been lacking. He wants to raise the level of professionalism. Given that the employees are political appointees, he has the chance to implement best practices in government.
But will he succeed? That depends on how much support he receives from the public.