Cantalamessa sworn in as county commissioner

WARREN – Restaurant owner / operator Mauro Cantalamessa, sworn in Monday as Trumbull County commissioner, pledged afterward that he will work the job full-time.

”I want to be accessible,” said Cantalamessa, 37. ”I want my office to be open to everybody. I want to hear the needs of the families of Trumbull County, and you can’t do that unless you are here.”

After the ceremony on the steps of the Trumbull County Courthouse, Cantalamessa, of Warren – the choice of Trumbull County Democratic Party central committee members to succeed the late commissioner Paul Heltzel – said his background in business and teaching translate well to the job of commissioner.

Still, a lot of the job ”comes down to listening,” Cantalamessa said.

”Listening to the townships, listening to the cities, listening to all the municipalities, hearing what they need,” Cantalamessa said. ”It’s hard to prescribe remedies to something when you don’t live it, so listening to my trustees and listening to my mayors and my councilman, that will be key.”

Cantalamessa, a former teacher of English at Austintown Fitch High School, left that job about 10 years ago to help run Enzo’s Restaurant in Warren following the death of his father. He ran for commissioner in a crowded 2006 Democratic primary election field that also had Frank Fuda, the winner.

He said he hasn’t run since because commissioners were ”doing wonderful things already” and to maintain Democratic party unity.

”Unfortunately, with the passing of Commissioner Heltzel, I thought I could just step in and hopefully lend a hand,” Cantalamessa said. ”To say ‘to fill his shoes’ would not be right, but to lend a hand and understand what the other two commissioners are doing and build on that.”

Cantalamessa was among 10 people on July 26 seeking the temporary appointment, which he won in a second ballot run-off against Ken Kubala of Warren. Cantalamessa also won that day the nomination to be on the Nov. 4 ballot to fill the last two year’s on Heltzel’s term.

How the vote went down – using, in part, a secret ballot – has led to a struggle between local party Chairman Dan Polivka and chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, who disagree on how the vote should have done and, so far, has resulted in Redfern taking away the county Democrats franking privilege and access to an electronic voter database.

Redfern has argued the local party broke ODP and Democratic National Committee constitutions by voting in secret. Polivka argues the way the vote went down, including publicly affirming Cantalamessa by voice vote, satisfied his own party’s bylaws and the constitutions of the ODP and DNC.

Cantalamessa said he has not, too much, concerned himself with the ”mechanics” of his selection and believes the matter will be settled by the time campaign season reaches full swing.

”I’m confident that the state party and the local party will find a compromise and put an end to this,” Cantalamessa said.

Polivka said he’s put together a seven-person committee, all central committee members from all points in Trumbull County, to review the suggestions ODP has made for the local party’s bylaws. The committee also will examine the bylaws of other county parties, including Cuyahoga County, which uses a caucus in its process to fill vacancies.

Members of the Trumbull County Republican Party will meet 7 p.m. tonight at the Johnson Community Center, 800 Gillmer Road, Leavittsburg, to pick a candidate to be on the ballot. J.D. Williams of Liberty is the only person to apply. However, other nominations could be made tonight.