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Republicans select Poland man for seat on county election board

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County Republican Party’s executive committee has recommended Bob Aurandt of Poland succeed Mark Munroe on the county board of elections.

The recommendation goes to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, who is expected to make a final decision shortly.

“I want to be on the board because of its integrity and to keep the process clean,” Aurandt said. “Mahoning County has a very good reputation for its elections, results and procedures. I want to keep it on the straight and narrow.”

Four candidates were seeking the appointment: Aurandt, Tex Fischer, Ron Knickerbocker and David Simon.

A candidate needs a majority of votes to get the appointment. On the second ballot Tuesday, Aurandt beat Fischer 19-11.

For the past two years, Aurandt has worked as the office manager at the Mahoning County Republican Party’s headquarters. He is retired from Altronic LLC in Girard, where he worked for 22 years.

He’s also been a pollworker for about 25 years.

“I’ve been interested in politics ever since I was a teen,” Aurandt said. “But when you raise a family and work, you can’t devote too much time to it. I’m now devoting all of my time to (making) Mahoning County red.”

Munroe, who spent more than 28 years on the board of elections, is retiring Sept. 30.

Munroe said Aurandt “is no stranger to the local political scene. He’ll do a fine job.”

Board member Sandra Barger, who is expected to become chairwoman when Munroe’s resignation takes effect, said of Aurandt: “We’ve known each other for several years. His background working the polls will be helpful. I’m excited for him and looking forward to him joining the board.”

Once confirmed by LaRose, Aurandt will serve the remainder of Munroe’s term, which runs until February 2025.

Board members make about $16,000 annually.

Aurandt will be the second new Republican on the board of elections this year.

Barger, a Republican, replaced Tracey Winbush in February after the latter resigned to run for Youngstown mayor.

Democrats are also expecting a change to the board later this year.

After the November election, Director Joyce Kale-Pesta, a Democrat and that political party’s county chairwoman, is retiring. She’s worked for the board for the past 34 years.

Democrat Bob Wasko, a board member for the past 20 years, is expected to leave at the end of the year with a plan for Kale-Pesta to join the board.

It won’t be a direct replacement, according to board Vice Chairman David Betras, a Democrat.

Betras wants to succeed Wasko, whose term doesn’t expire until February 2025, and have Kale-Pesta replace him. Betras’ current term ends February 2023.

dskolnick@vindy.com

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