County backing Betras

The terms of chairman and woman of the Democratic and Republican parties in Trumbull and Mahoning counties expire around the time of the May 7 primary election, yet some elected officials in Mahoning County already are trying to persuade central and executive committee members to re-elect Democratic Party chairman David Betras.

Their urging is not ”based on personal loyalty of friendship,” only on their ”respect and appreciation” for what Betras has done since becoming chairman in 2009, according to a letter sent to central and executive committee members.

That list includes putting back into place party endorsements, raising money and advocating Democratic principles on the grassroots level.

”Yes, some of us have had very public disagreements with him over the years, but at the end of the day we recognize that although he is sometimes brash, he is forthright, honest and active with the upmost integrity. As officeholders and citizens we cannot ask for more,” the letter states.

Betras aid he was ”elated” and ”happy” that all of the countywide officeholders signed the letter, including Prosecutor Paul Gains, ”who the party actively worked against,” in the 2012 election. Remember, central committee members endorsed Gains’ opponent, former Youngstown prosecutor Jay Macejko.

Betras said the mayoral race in Youngstown was emotionally draining – he drew considerable heat for removing three black members of the executive committee for not supporting the endorsed candidate – and he considered not seeking a second term, but, he says, he ”rebounded” for one more term and then he’s ”done with politics.”

At the end of a second term, Betras will be 58.

”I know when to hang up my spurs,” Betras said.

Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, said in Ohio, political parties can reorganize every two or four years.

In the May primary election, central committee members will be elected for Democrats and Republicans. It’s those folks who will meet afterward to elect party officers, Munroe said.

It’s too early yet for the parties to schedule the reorganization meetings, but Munroe; Dan Polivka, chairman of the Trumbull County Democratic Party; and Kathi Creed, Trumbull GOP chair, say they intend to seek another term as the chair.

State Rep. Bob Hagan says the governor of Ohio should be present when the death penalty is administered, and he intends to introduce legislation to require the governor and some other top state officials attend future executions.

Hagan, a Democrat from Youngstown, announced the proposal after the execution Jan. 16 of Dennis McGuire, who took 25 minutes to die and reportedly gasped several times and made snorting noises.

Hagan’s legislation, which hasn’t been introduced, would require the governor and the director of the Ohio Department of Correction be present at executions.