WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Wyatt McKay swore in Mauro Cantalamessa as the newest Trumbull County Commissioner Monday morning, ending several weeks of drama that began with a high-ranking Ohio Democrat calling the vote for Cantalamessa into question.
The ceremony took place in front of the Trumbull County Courthouse, with several dozen people on hand.
On Thursday, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted said Cantalamessa can become the new Trumbull County Commissioner to replace Paul Heltzel.
Trumbull County Democrats chose Cantalamessa during a secret vote July 26, but Ohio State Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said the vote went against party guidelines and should have been public. He said the local party should abolish secret ballots.
Redfern threatened to take measures to remove Trumbull County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Polivka if a new vote was not held.
“Obviously, that word [sanction] has a strong connotation to it, but I think they are working together on a compromise as we speak and in the spirit of unity, we are going to move forward and I don’t see anything coming of it,” Cantalamessa said.
Fellow commissioner and Trumbull County Democratic party Chair Dan Polivka said he has formed a committee to look at how other counties across the state vote. They will present their findings to the body and will likely vote on changing the system on the local level.
One of the counties Polivka cited was Cuyahoga, which he said has a caucusing effect but keeps the vote quasi-private.
Cantalamessa is taking over for Paul Heltzel, who died June 30 after a long battle with cancer. He will be a commissioner at least until the end of the year. In 2015, whoever is chosen in the November election will take over the seat, which could be Cantalamessa himself.
“I know Paul’s shoes are huge shoes to fill. I understand that I am not here to fill those shoes. I am here to do the best of my ability and try to bring what I can to the commissioners office. I have a good working relationship with Commissioner Polivka and Commissioner Fuda, so I just can’t wait to get started,” Cantalamessa said.