2nd-place gains in run-off

When Trumbull County central committee members could not settle on a person to fill a vacant county commissioner seat on the first ballot, I was asked who – between the top two finishers, Ken Kubala and Mauro Cantalamessa – would win in the run-off.

I thought Kubala, who finished first, because he had the support of Trumbull County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Polivka and the committee members he controlled, but the person I was talking with thought differently. He said Cantalamessa. Why became clear earlier this week.

Another person I spoke with, too, said Cantalamessa. His explanation: when a run-off is necessary, the person who finished second always gets more support in the second vote.

He used an example from an endorsement for state senator in 2000.

Three Democrats – Darlene St. George, Marc Dann and Tim Ryan – were seeking the party’s endorsement. A run-off was needed between St. George, a trustee in Howland then, and a young Ryan, who was then a law student. Thinking it would be more difficult to beat St. George, a woman with the party backing, than Ryan, it was told to me, that Dann threw his support behind Ryan.

Ryan won the endorsement and then the primary election by about 8 percent. He’s now been a member of Congress for more than a decade.

What was being talked about earlier this week was an agreement between candidates Glenn Holmes, mayor of McDonald, and Steve Papalas, at-large councilman in Niles, that if one reached a run-off, the other would throw his support behind that person.

So when neither Holmes, who received 31 votes, nor Papalas, who got 24 votes, finished in the top two, they threw their support to Cantalamessa.

That was enough for Cantalamessa to win the appointment to succeed the late Commissioner Paul Heltzel. Cantalamessa is also the Democratic candidate who will run in November for the two years left on Heltzel’s term.

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Trumbull County Republican Party central committee members will meet 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Johnson Community Center in Leavittsburg to select their candidate for Nov. 4.

It’s almost certain to be J.D. Williams of Liberty. He was the only person to submit an application and although nominations can be made from the floor, it’s unlikely there will be one.

The vote could be in secret, but it should not be. These folks are elected, and the people who elected them deserve to know where they stand, despite the high likelihood there will be just one candidate.

Trumbull GOP bylaws offer some flexibility on the vote, said first vice chairman John Blue, and a motion for secret ballot has to come from the floor. Also, the constitution of the Ohio Republican Party doesn’t prohibit voting in secret.