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Commissioners face challengers in Trumbull County elections

Incumbents face primary rivals, possibly independents

WARREN — The race for Trumbull County commissioner could be crowded in both the March primary and November general election as both current commissioners likely will be facing challengers.

One of those challenges could come from former commissioner and former Democratic Party chairman Dan Polivka, who lost the 2020 general election to Republican Niki Frenchko. Polivka sent out a statement saying he plans to file his petition today, which is the filing deadline for the March primary.

“It is time for progress in the commissioners office again, not chaos. And time to put people first over lawsuits and politics,” Polivka said in a statement.

The winners of the primary also may face independent candidates in November 2024’s general election, based on the number of potential independent candidates that pulled petitions for the commissioners’ seats.

Two of the three current commissioners, Mauro Cantalamessa, a Democrat, who has been a commissioner since 2014, and Frenchko, who is completing her first term, pulled petitions to not only run for their current seats, but also for their fellow commissioner’s seat.

Commission President Denny Malloy, a Republican, is completing his first year of a four-year term this year, so he is not running for reelection.

Frenchko previously announced she was considering running for Cantalamessa’s seat, suggesting a head to head match could allow her to “cut the head off of the snake,” by running against the Democrat.

Cantalamessa quietly pulled petitions for Frenchko’s seat, as well as his own. Neither candidate, as of early Tuesday afternoon, turned in their filled petitions to the Trumbull County Board of Election.

Frenchko holds the Jan. 3, 2025, commissioner seat. Cantalamessa holds the Jan. 2, 2025, commissioner seat.

When questioned on Tuesday about which seat she would turn petitions in for the 2024 Republican primary, Frenchko would not respond. Cantalamessa said he would likely seek to be re-elected in the seat he now holds.

During the time Frenchko has served as a commissioner, she has had contentious relationships not only with Cantalamessa, but also with former commissioner Frank Fuda, a Democrat, as well as current commissioner Denny Malloy, a Republican.

Frenchko has constantly questioned her colleagues’ abilities to run meetings and the operation of the commissioners office. She also has challenged the jobs of county department heads and work of other elected officials.

Frenchko has said that employees of the commissioners office have not supplied her with the information she requires to do her job.

Candidates running for either the Republican or Democratic primaries must turn in their completed petitions to become candidates by the end of today.

The day before the primary is the deadline for independents to file for the Nov. 5, 2024, general election.

Democrats that turned in their petitions to the board of elections to run for Frenchko’s seat include John Brown, president of Warren City Council; Michele Garman, a Mathews school board member; and James J. Lapolla, a Howland trustee.

Rick Hernandez, a Republican, turned in his petition to run for Frenchko’s seat. Douglas Austin Parker, also a Republican, pulled petitions to run for Frenchko’s seat, but, as of early Tuesday afternoon, had not turned in the petitions.

Anthony R. Bernard of Howland, a former county commissioner in the 1970s and owner of Bernard’s Garden in Champion, turned in his completed petitions to run in the Republican primary for Cantalamessa’s seat. Bernard said the commissioner’s office needs a change in tone.

Geo Kuriatnyk, a Democrat, pulled petitions to run for Cantalamessa’s seat. However, Kuriatnyk, as of Tuesday afternoon, had not returned the completed petitions to the board of elections.

Corey Hovance of Howland, president of the Warren Italian-American Heritage Festival, pulled petitions to run for Frenchkoás’ seat as an independent.

Barry Profato of Niles, a former councilman who previously ran as a Democrat, has pulled petitions to run for an unspecified commissioner seat as an independent. As of Tuesday afternoon, Profato had not turned in his petitions to the board of elections.

Marcella Sioudis, a Republican, pulled petitions to run for both seats. She also had not turned in the completed petitions by Tuesday afternoon, according to the board of election website.

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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