Betras resigning as Mahoning County Democratic Party Chair

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – After nearly a decade, Mahoning County Democratic Party Chair David Betras is resigning.

In a letter to Executive Vice Chair Joyce Kale Pesta, Betras cited wanting to spend more time with his family and on his law business. 

He added that since his son, Joseph, enlisted in the U.S. Army, he can no longer be an “aggressive, highly partisan advocate.” He said while his son wouldn’t ask him to resign, he believes that it would be “disrespectful” to “publicly chastise the nation’s commander-in-chief while Joseph is serving his country.”

Betras’ resignation will take effect on May 15. 

“I think it’s a little surprising that it was as abrupt as it was, but clearly I understand the challenges of being a party chairman. It’s not an easy job,” said former Mahoning County Republican Party Chair Mark Munroe.

Betras said he wants to leave his successor with some advice.

“It has to be the number one burning passion in your heart to fight for Democrats and win,” Betras said.

You can read his entire letter below: 

Dear Executive Vice Chair Joyce Kale Pesta:

Serving as the chair of the Mahoning County Democratic Party has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. I will always be grateful for the overwhelming support I have received from the Party and a myriad of others. I am extremely proud of all we have accomplished and all we have done to strengthen our Party and our community.

Of course—and this is always the case as it relates to politics in general and party chairs in particular—there is much more to be done. Recently, I’ve spent many hours thinking about the upcoming campaign and the immense amount of work that will need to be done between now and November 2, 2020.  This week, after months of reflection, I concluded that I will not be able to devote the time, effort, and energy required to ensure that our Party’s nominees for federal, state, and local office will prevail in what will be the most important election in my lifetime.

Therefore, I am resigning as chair of the Mahoning County Democratic Party effective May 15, 2019.

My decision is driven in large part by my desire to devote more time to my family and my business.  For the past ten years, my wife Pam and our children Rose, Joseph, and Alexander, tolerated the constant travel, long hours, late night phone calls, tension, and aggravation that comes with being chair. I was often absent from their lives over the past decade. I am excited about the prospect of spending more time with them in the years ahead

In addition, since Joseph enlisted in the U.S. Army, I cannot in good conscience be the aggressive, highly partisan advocate the MDCP chair should and must be. I want to be clear, Joseph has never and would never ask me to resign.  He, like most of our armed forces are A political.  Our armed forces fight and protect, so we can have our freedoms. I simply believe it is disrespectful for me to publicly chastise the nation’s commander-in-chief while Joseph is serving his country.

For the reasons cited and because I believe the Party is in a strong position because of the work we have done together over the past decade, I feel the time has come for me to step aside. By leaving now I will give my successor, whomever she or he may be, ample time to become familiar with the position and to plan the highly effective campaign our candidates and our community deserve. Information about the process for electing the MCDP’s new chair will be mailed to the members of the Central and Executive Committees and made public in the next week.

I will continue to protect our democracy and foster participation in our electoral process as a member of the Mahoning County Board of Elections. Our BOE is among the best in the state and nation. I am eager to work with my fellow board members and our outstanding staff as we strive to ensure that every person eligible can cast a vote and that every vote cast is counted.

Finally, I would like to thank each one of you for your support. I am truly grateful for all you have done for me, for our Party, for our candidates, and for the Valley we all love. While I am stepping down as chair, you will always be able to count on me to step up and help in any way I can. It’s the least I can do to repay all of you for all you have done for me.

The Mahoning County Democratic Party plans to release details about the succession process in the upcoming week. 

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