Mark Belinky drops out of primary race

YOUNGSTOWN – Mark Belinky, former Mahoning County Probate Court judge, by proxy Tuesday took himself out of contention for his old seat.

He officially withdrew from the probate court judge’s race, leaving two Democrats on the ballot seeking the party’s nomination on May 6.

Belinky, who resigned March 14, remains under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or BCI. Agents searched his Boardman home and former chambers inside the Mahoning County Courthouse on Feb. 7 looking for evidence in what appears to be a corruption probe. He has not been charged with a crime.

Belinky’s name will remain on the primary election ballot, but votes for the former judge will not be counted, said Tom McCabe, deputy director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

”What we are going to have to do is provide notice to every absentee ballot and post it at every polling location that votes for Mark Belinky will not be counted,” said McCabe.

A withdraw letter from Belinky was given to the elections board on his behalf, McCabe said.

Meanwhile, the search to find someone to fill Belinky’s unexpired term will begin in earnest Saturday, when a screening committee put together by the Mahoning County Republican Party vets four candidates who have applied for the seat.

Mark Munroe, Mahoning GOP chairman, said at least three of those names will be presented to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who will appoint someone to fill the rest of Belinky’s term, which ends February 2015.

One of the candidates, George Millich Jr., has removed himself from consideration, Munroe said.

That leaves seeking the recommendation attorneys Susan Maruca and Christopher Sammarone, who are running in the Democratic primary and Mary Ann Fabrizi and Robert N. Rusu, who are circulating petitions to run as independent candidates for the seat in the November general election, according to Munroe.