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Follow heart, not necessarily political party

Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda, a Democrat from Niles, was very conscious of the political fallout sure to come from his decision to back the Republican challenger last November in the race for another seat on the board of commissioners.

Fuda was not bashful about sharing his political support of Republican Niki Frenchko over longtime Democratic officeholder Dan Polivka during campaign season. For weeks prior to the Nov. 3 General Election, Fuda drove around town with Frenchko placards on his car doors. His support was carried in print advertisements and Fuda even wrote a letter to the editor published in support of Frenchko’s candidacy.

As it turned out, Frenchko beat Polivka, the 16-year incumbent, by 4.7 percent.

As a result of his actions, Fuda has been suspended for two years from his hometown Democratic club for violating club rules against endorsing a candidate from an opposing party.

The Niles club felt so strongly about Fuda’s disloyalty that the club’s executive committee met for the first time in about a year to take the action. Until now, the club’s meetings have been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now Fuda will be ineligible for the endorsement of the Niles Democratic Club, one of the strongest Democratic groups in Trumbull County, if he decides to seek re-election next year.

Some might say the move was risky — especially considering that Polivka also is Trumbull County Democratic Party chairman.

But we call the move both bold and upstanding.

Undoubtedly, the political club has the right to create and uphold its bylaws as members and officers see fit.

We, however, commend Fuda for standing his ground and supporting who he believed was the better candidate, despite the “R” after her name.

So often, elected officials on the local, state and even national levels — on both sides of the aisle — follow their party’s wishes or directives despite their personal beliefs or with no thought process of their own.

We believe candidates always should vote with their hearts for what they believe is best for their constituency. Walking the party line doesn’t always guarantee that, and rather, it often leads to divisiveness and political gridlock.

In this case, Fuda said he understood the club’s bylaws and ramifications, but made his decision in what he believed was the best interest of Trumbull County.

“I have no problem with the decision,” he said of the club’s decision. “I’m not upset about it. I’ve been in the club for 55 years. I have to do what’s right for the citizens of Trumbull County.”

After receiving word of his suspension, Fuda said this: “I supported every other Democratic candidate” except Polivka. “I did it in the open. I was honest with the citizens. I didn’t agree with Dan Polivka. I don’t thoroughly agree with (Frenchko), but we’ve got to give her a chance.”

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