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Leaders of Mahoning elections shuffled

YOUNGSTOWN — Joyce Kale-Pesta’s retirement as director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections is effective Nov. 30, but she won’t be going far as she will then become a board member.

Kale-Pesta’s retirement as director will elevate Thomas McCabe, the deputy director, to the top spot and

board Vice Chairman David Betras will take over as chairman.

If a Republican, McCabe in this case, is director, state law requires the chairman to be of the opposing party. Betras is a Democrat as is Kale-Pesta, who also is the county Democratic Party’s chairwoman. McCabe is the county Republican Party chairman.

Republican Sandra Barger, appointed to the board of elections in February, has served as its chairwoman since former board Chairman Mark Munroe retired Sept. 30.

Also, Democrats shortly will begin the search for Kale-Pesta’s replacement, who will be deputy director.

The director and deputy director currently make $81,200 annually.

The deputy director job will be advertised on the county board of elections and Ohio secretary of state websites and possibly on the county website, Kale-Pesta said. The advertisements for the job should be posted by the end of the week, she said.

Applications probably will be accepted until the middle of December with a goal of hiring a deputy director in January, Kale-Pesta said.

There won’t be an interim deputy director, she said.

McCabe said of becoming director: “Joyce and I work together on issues. It’s co-director in my book. It’s just a title.”

McCabe served as deputy director from 1999 to 2005, then as director until 2011 and returned to deputy director after that.

TURNAROUND

Kale-Pesta, who’s worked at the board of elections for the past 34 years, said she’s “excited” to retire.

But the plan is for her to join the board, succeeding Democrat Bob Wasko, who is leaving the board effective Nov. 30 after 20 years of service.

The county Democratic Party’s executive committee will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at the St. Luke Banquet Hall in Boardman to recommend to the secretary of state that Betras fill out the remainder of Wasko’s term, which ends in 2025.

The committee also will recommend that Kale-Pesta be appointed to Betras’ seat, with a term that ends in 2023.

The committee also will take nominations from the floor, if there are any. But with Kale-Pesta as chairwoman and Betras as the former chairman, the meeting is only a formality.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose has to finalize the recommendations.

Board members make about $16,000 annually in salary.

Kale-Pesta is joining the board to lead the search for a new deputy director, assist that person when hired and bring experience to the board, Betras said.

Barger has been a board member since February while Bob Aurandt, the other Republican, has served since last month.

“Joyce will be a great asset to the board and will sit on it for two years and then retire,” Betras said.

Also, Betras said after 2025, he would not seek another four-year term.

Meanwhile, the board hired Jenny Ditzler as a full-time clerk at the office.

Ditzler, the wife of county Commissioner David Ditzler, has worked part-time for several years for the board.

“She got hired because she does a good job and is a good employee,” Betras said.

She will earn about $41,000 annually. Ditzler was making $10 per hour as a part-time worker.

dskolnick@vindy.com

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