GOP picks Williams for ballot

LEAVITTSBURG – Trumbull County Republican Party central committee members, without the turbulence that Democrats went through to pick a candidate for county commissioner, have their person who will run for the seat on Nov. 4.

Retired Air Force reservist J.D. Williams of Liberty was approved in a unanimous voice vote Tuesday as the GOP candidate.

”I am running for office because I believe it is time for a new system of concepts, values and practices that will lead to a better Trumbull County,” said Williams. ”We need to relearn the virtues that have afforded so much prosperity to many previous generations.”

The selection pits him against Democrat Mauro Cantalamessa of Warren, who Trumbull County Democratic Party central committee members picked on July 26 to be on the ballot and run for the last two years of the term belonging to the late Commissioner Paul Heltzel.

Democrats also picked Cantalamessa to fill the seat through the election. He was sworn in on Monday.

Williams, the only Republican to apply to be considered for the ballot, said the security of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna – one of Trumbull County’s largest employers – is a big reason for getting into the race.

He believes Congress will go through another Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, process, so community and political support will be crucial to maintaining the base, which he said, has a payroll of $60 million.

”It’s very important to fight for,” said Williams, who previously commanded the 757th Airlift Squadron, part of the 910th Airlift Wing at the air reserve station. ”We are going to have to fight for our lives to maintain that airbase.”

Williams ran the May 2010 Democratic primary election for the former 65th District Ohio House seat, finishing second. He does not think that will hurt his chances as the Republican candidate now.

”I think in this area, with predominantly Democratic voters, I think that most people understand that sometimes if you are interested in voting on an issue in the primary, you need to switch to Democrat because sometimes there just aren’t the field of candidates on the Republican ticket to vote for in the primary,” said Williams, who still leaned toward the right.

”I ran as Democrat because I was a registered Democrat at that particular time,” said Williams. ”I believe that this area would be accepting of a conservative Democrat, which I’ve always been conservative.”

Williams said he would like to ”explore the opportunities” at Mosquito Lake, an asset that could be used to provide benefit to Trumbull County and review existing programs at the county to make sure they are not outdated or redundant.

The process Democrats used to pick Cantalamessa involved a secret ballot, which officials with the Ohio Democratic Party argue broke ODP and Democratic National Committee constitutions and has led to the suspension of the local party’s franking privilege and access to an electronic voter database. Some local party officials argue the process, which included a public confirmation of Cantalamessa, abided by their rules and the rules of the ODP and DNC.

Williams was the only person nominated by GOP central committee members, who then immediately voted by voice to choose him as their candidate.