Longtime Mahoning County Board of Elections member, Michael Morley, will resign his seat on the four-member board by Sept. 16. Morley has served on the board for more than a decade, after he and David Engler ran a campaign that knocked former Mahoning County Dem Chair, Don ‘Bull Moose’ Hanni out of power.
In a letter to Mr. Betras, Mr. Morley says he believes it is the choice of the “the chairman of each political party to serve on the Board of Elections, as she or he desires.”
Actually, it will be the decision of the Ohio Secretary of State as to who fills Mr. Morley’s vacant seat.
Betras has issued a statement saying the 94-member Mahoning County Dem Executive Committee will meet the day after Mr. Morley’s resignation “to make a recommendation on a replacement.”
As chairman of the Mahoning County Dems, Mr. Betras has played the lead role in raising more than $400,000 in less than three years as party chair. His efforts were recognized at a recent state Dem party convention in Columbus where he earned Democrat of the Year honors for a second, straight year.
Should Mr. Betras get the nod for the seat on the Board of Elections, his appointment would return a ‘Hanni loyalist’ to the Board of Elections---or just what the Morley-Engler Dems for Change fought against more than a decade ago in unseating The Bull Moose.
It was Mr. Betras, at a ‘Hall of Fame’ banquet the Dems hosted at Mr. Anthony’s last spring, who said two of the biggest influences in his life were television trash show host Jerry Springer and The Bull Moose.
In his letter of resignation, Mr. Morley points out The Bull Moose did not resign from the Board of Elections in 1996, when Mr. Morley was elected party chair.
Mr. Morley also tells Mr. Betras, “I assume you will share this letter with the executive committee and will advise them of your intent to seek their approval to appoint you to the vacancy and allow you to serve out the last few months of my term.”
Should Mr. Betras be recommended, the final decision on the matter would come from the Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted.
Despite the state party honors, Mr. Betras is also known in Columbus as one of the principals who organized the campaign for Marc Dann’s ill-fated election as Ohio Atty. General in 2005. According to an Ohio Inspector General’s Report, Mr. Betras signed checks related to the Dann campaign for $50,000 to a local attorney, and some $10,000 to purchase table settings from Mr. Dann’s former wife. Dann resigned amidst scandal. Dann quit before serving his term as Ohio AG in the wake of the scandal.
More recently, Mr. Betras made some ridiculous claims about current Mahoning County GOP Chair, Mr. Mark Munroe; and Columbiana County GOP Chair, Mr. David Johnson, particularly in his efforts to achieve a debate on Senate Bill #5.
Mr. Betras has created a campaign calling for the resignation of Thomas Humphries as head of the Youngstown/Warren regional Chamber of Commerce (that supports SB #5 as proposed and passed with the support of Ohio Gov. John Kasich).
He has used his political office to call for the resignation of members of the Chamber who support his stance against SB #5. To date, less than 25 of the more than 2500 members of the chamber have resigned.
Next Board of Elections member?
Mr. Morley suggests in his letter of resignation, it will be Mr. Betras.
Mr. Morley says in his letter of resignation that should Mr. Betras gain the appointment, “This will give you the opportunity to be on the board for the upcoming November election...You will be able to see the process firsthand, and understand your role and your responsibilities in the coming years.”
In resigning, Mr. Morley said he “very much enjoyed serving on the board, and I am proud of the fact we reduced staff, dramatically lowered our budget...and generally received high marks from Secretaries of State from both parties.” Mr. Morley notes during his tenure the “Mahoning County Board of Elections became the first board of elections in Ohio to embrace electronic voting.”
Mr. Betras said The Mahoning County Executive Committee will meet Sept. 17 to make a recommendation as a replacement. The name will be then forwarded to Secretary of State Jon Husted who must give the final approval.
Mr. Betras has indicated his desire to sit on the board. Anyone else interested should send a letter of inquiry to Vice Chair Ken Carano by Sept. 1, 2011.
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