Vivo to step down as Mahoning County clerk of courts

Followed father as county clerk of courts; potential replacements announce intentions

Tony Vivo, 65, is surrounded by his sports collectibles this week inside his Mahoning County Clerk of Courts office in the courthouse. He is stepping down from the elected position Aug. 25 after nearly 29 years.

YOUNGSTOWN — Tony Vivo, Mahoning County clerk of courts for nearly 29 years, is retiring Aug. 25, citing a medical issue with his legs that “makes it hard for me to sit at a desk.”

Vivo, 65, has worked as a clerk of courts employee about 40 years, counting the years he worked there when his father, also Anthony Vivo, was clerk of courts.

The first and the second Tony Vivo have been Mahoning County clerks of court the last 62 years — except for eight months when another person was appointed to fill the position in 1994 after the first Tony Vivo died.

The younger Vivo was first elected clerk of courts in November 1994 and became clerk of courts Jan. 1, 1995. His father was first elected in 1960.

Mahoning County commissioners will vote in the coming weeks to replace Vivo temporarily effective Aug. 26.

The Mahoning County Democratic Party’s central committee will select someone to fill the remainder of Vivo’s current term, which ends Dec. 31, 2024. The position will be on the November 2024 ballot for a full four-year term.

A replacement will be made in the second week of September, party Chairman Chris Anderson said.

A deadline to apply for the seat hasn’t been determined, but those who have questions or want to seek the appointment, can contact Anderson at chair@mahoningcountydemocraticparty.com.

Dan Dascenzo, Youngstown deputy law director and a former county magistrate, and James Vivo, Youngstown’s first assistant law director who spent five years in the clerk of courts’ office, said they are interested in the appointment.


As clerk of courts, Tony Vivo has been responsible for the main office in the county courthouse, which is responsible for felony criminal and civil documents for the common pleas court. He also is responsible for the four other courts — in Austintown, Boardman, Canfield and Sebring — as well as the auto title office in the county’s Oakhill office building on Oak Hill Avenue.

Vivo said technology has made big strides during his tenure. When he first came to work for his father, there were electric typewriters and large docket books. If someone filed a motion in a case, an employee would remove a sheet of paper from the docket book, type information about the motion and return the page to the docket book.

“We’ve gone from that to now, we have imaging where you can copy everything, and we have e-filing,” he said.

In the 1980s, there were layoffs in the clerk of courts office so he went to Florida to work as an auditor during the time when that office was switching over to computerized records.

“So I saw the potential,” he said. “My dad bugged me to come back in 1986. I said I will come back if you make me the office administrator and you let me computerize the whole operation, so I did. And then I took over the area courts.”

Vivo said he found a computerized court bookkeeping system in Butler County in 1986. That system was installed in the Mahoning County Clerk of Courts Office in 1989. He also computerized the county area courts in the early 1990s, even though a lot of judges didn’t like the idea.

Vivo said he worked at the office 13 years for his father. “I started as a file clerk. I worked at every office,” he said. “I basically learned every job in the office.”

Vivo said one of his greatest accomplishments has been hiring an “excellent staff.”

Vivo, who also is a well-known local sports announcer and talk-show host known as Champ Summers, said he compares his role as clerk of courts to the role of a pro sports general manager.

He said: “I’ve got the best players. My first hire as clerk of courts was Kathi Welsh as deputy clerk of courts. I feel like I had the No 1 draft pick, and I chose Kathi McNabb Welsh from the county prosecutor’s office. And to me I feel like … I should get GM of the year for that.”


Vivo earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Ohio University in 1981.

He also performed in many shows produced by Easy Street Productions.

About 1995, Vivo said he was talking to a local broadcaster about doing a local talk show. “I said I can’t use my name Tony Vivo because nobody will pay attention to me,” he recalled — so he started doing the show with the name Champ Summers.

“If someone hears a politician talking sports, they won’t listen. (They will say) there’s that politician,” Vivo said. “I did that for years and years as a hobby. I never got paid,” he said.

People did not know Champ Summers was Tony Vivo until a Vindicator reporter wrote about it. The real Champ Summers played for Vivo’s favorite Major League Baseball team — the Detroit Tigers.

Vivo continues to be a sports historian and does an annual high school football preview with 21-WFMJ TV’s Dana Balash.

Vivo’s office at the courthouse is filled with photos and images from his favorite sports teams. It also has a photo of Vivo with his father, when the younger Vivo was a small boy.

Sports have been such a big part of his life. Vivo even produced a baseball card for one of his election campaigns containing his photo in a suit on the front, listing his height and weight, saying he bats left, throws left. On the back, it gives the names of his favorite sports teams, rock group and movie, which is “Hoosiers.”


McNabb Welsh has been deputy clerk of courts the entire 29 years. She said this week that she has been “blessed to work for Tony Vivo. You couldn’t work for a finer man.”

McNabb Welsh said she is not interested in pursuing the appointment from the commissioners to replace Vivo or running for the position.

She said she does not know if she will continue to work there after Vivo has retired because that is “up to the new clerk.”

She said one of the biggest achievements of Vivo’s time as clerk of courts has been that he “is first and foremost, an ethical and honest public servant. His motto from Day One was, if you do what’s right, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

McNabb Welsh said Vivo “was instrumental in bringing technology to the clerk of courts office. When he first he came in, he went to a computerized system, and that led to integrated systems, images online and electronic filing.”

She said she thinks he brought together a great team of people.


Anderson said the county Democratic Party is “eternally grateful for the decades of service and all Tony has done for the clerk of courts office. We’re also thankful to Tony that his outstanding public service has helped and train so many future public servants.”

There have been a few people who have expressed interest in replacing Vivo, said Anderson, who declined to disclose who they are.

But Dascenzo and James Vivo, the clerk of courts’ first cousin, said Tuesday they are interested in the job.

“My experience as an attorney and as a court magistrate will allow me to serve with a level of professionalism that’s there and build on it,” Dascenzo said.

Dascenzo has worked for Youngstown as deputy law director for about two years. Before that, he was a magistrate in the county’s domestic relations division for two years and prior to that was a magistrate in the common pleas general division for 10 years.

“It’s an important role, and I believe I’m qualified and ready to do the job from Day One,” he said.

James Vivo said he’s been interested in succeeding his cousin for several years.

“It’s what I have been interested in politically,” he said.

James Vivo has been Youngstown’s first assistant law director for nearly four years. Before that, he was in private practice for about 19 years. He also was a clerk at the county board of elections from 1999 to 2002 and worked as a file clerk at the county clerk of courts from 1991 to 1996.

“I started at the bottom, and I want to finish at the top,” he said. “It’s a good fit for me personally and for the community.”

A timeline for appointing a replacement for Tony Vivo will be determined soon, Anderson said, but the deadline to apply will be before the Aug. 25 retirement date.

The party’s central committee will select a successor likely in the second week of September, he said.

The party’s screening committee will meet with nominees after the application deadline to discuss qualifications and “a strong focus on if they’ll be a good addition to the 2024 ticket,” Anderson said.

“We’re looking forward to having a robust process for filling the position,” he said.

The screening committee will prepare a report on the candidates to be distributed to the central committee members before the vote, Anderson said.

That report though will not include a recommendation for a preferred candidate, he said.


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