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Interim Trumbull County commissioner certified; but ODP officials say public vote must happen

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Trumbull County, Ohio -

Arrangements are underway to swear in Mauro Cantalamessa to succeed the late Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel.

On Thursday, Ohio Secretary of State, Jon Husted certified the appointment made by Trumbull's Democratic Party last Saturday.

Cantalamessa will now be able to serve in the interim and appear on the November ballot for a chance to win the remainder of Heltzel's term which expires in January 2017.

"I'm sure Dan is going to say, 'Hey, I was right, the Secretary of State agreed with me.' The Secretary of State has no role in the Ohio Democratic Party and the Democratic committee's functioning. And the Secretary of State will only certify if there is no challenge," said Chris Redfern, Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.

Redfern said the way Trumbull's Party conducted Saturday's vote, by secret ballot, went against the by-laws of both the state party and Democratic National Committee.

"I sent the Secretary of the state democratic party to the meeting to remind Chairman Polivka that if he did not have a public vote, he would be held to account for those actions," said Redfern.

Redfern added although Cantalamessa has been approved through the Secretary of State with the Board of Elections, Trumbull's party must do the vote over, publicly.

"The chair of the rules committee for the Democratic National Committee responded to this matter and pointed out that votes must be public and that has been the rule since the early 1970's," said Redfern.

Trumbull Party Chairman Dan Polivka did not comment Thursday, however, in a press conference Tuesday said he is obligated to follow the local party's constitution which calls for a secret ballot.

"The insistence of denying democrats a secret ballot is a ploy to hold precinct committee men and women captive to the whims of the chair and party leadership and under my leadership I'll not have it," said Polivka.

"Dan Polivka doesn't get to make the decision whether the Trumbull County Democratic Party can or can't, will or won't abide by the Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws. He doesn't have that authority. So, I appreciate his opinion. It's tough being a leader. He should either lead or get out of the way," said Redfern.

If the Trumbull Democratic Party does not remedy the violations by the time the Ohio Democratic Party meets at the end of August, Polivka could face censure and removal from his position as party chair, according to Redfern.

The state party already has cut-off resources to all Trumbull County democratic candidates who are up for election in November.

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