BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – With a unanimous vote, Joyce Kale-Pesta was elected the new leader of the Mahoning County Democrats Tuesday night.
It is an honor she never thought would be hers.
“I never expected to be chair. I’ve always been the person behind the scenes,” Kale-Pesta said.
Former party Chairman Dave Betras decided to resign last month. Since then, the party had been running under an interim leader.
Kale-Pesta had been serving as executive vice chair of the Democratic Party. She is also the Mahoning County Board of Elections director.
Members of her party believe Kale-Pesta is the right person to bring Democrats together.
“All the hatchets of all the different factions of the Democratic Party are going to be buried and what we’re going to do is start listening to each other,” said Austintown Township Trustee Ken Carano.
With some of the struggles in the county, Kale-Pesta believes voters need to be re-acquainted with the values of the Democratic Party.
“I think the working man has been trod upon in Mahoning County and we have to get them back to the basics of knowing what the Democratic Party is all about,” she said.
Party leaders are confident the county is on their side, but they need to get voters excited come Election Day.
“Democrats are still, theoretically, about 65% to 70% of Mahoning County. The only problem is to get them to vote,” Carano said.
The new chair still doesn’t know what message will drive voters to the polls.
“I don’t know what the message should be. I’ve been trying for 41 years to get people out to vote,” Kale-Pesta said. “It depends on the candidate, it depends on how hard the candidate works, it depends on who they’re running against.”