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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Park Board decision likely wasn’t easy one

A interesting choice by Lake County Probate Court Judge Mark Bartolotta to appoint Gretchen Skok DiSanto as the newest member to the Lake Metroparks Park Board of Commissioners.

When publicly announcing his decision to the board, which is an unpaid position, Bartolotta said his selection was carefully completed after a thorough investigation to select who the best person would be.

It must not have been easy decision and Bartolotta even apologized for the length of time the appointment took as the term of former Park Board Commissioner Ellen Foley Kessler expired Dec. 31.

It’s worth mentioning that Kessler, a Democrat, was the first woman and longest serving Park Board commissioner after she was appointed years ago by DiSanto’s father, the late former Probate Court Judge Fred V. Skok, who was a Democrat.

Bartolotta cited DiSanto’s lengthy résumé and experience along with her high level of education and a lifetime involvement with the park system that began with her parents and continued into her childhood and adult life.

The Concord Township Democrat is well respected within the many circles and she should be quite capable in her new role on the Park Board.

DiSanto, who has two children, also brings with her to the board a perspective of someone with a young family who utilizes the park system on a regular basis.

For Bartolotta, a Republican appointed to the bench in September by Gov. John Kasich, the appointment was his first decision that truly would fall under public scrutiny.

Yes, the judge makes multitudes of important decisions and judgments on Probate Court matters, but when the time comes to make Park Board selections the responsibility is one that typically captures greater public attention.

It did in this case, because it was the first board appointment made by the new judge who is running this year to retain the seat.

If Bartolotta, who was hired years ago as an assistant county prosecutor years ago by former Lake County Prosecutor and U.S. Rep. Steve C. LaTourette had selected a Republican, critics from the other side likely would have emerged for selecting someone in his political party. Because DiSanto is a lifelong Democrat, that wasn’t the case here.

But an interesting connection is DiSanto is married to Dino DiSanto, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Russell Township, and who held the same position with Congressman LaTourette.

Some may say that Gretchen Skok DiSanto’s appointment by the judge looks like a political decision.
The truth is, board appointments are usually political — at least in some capacity — because they are made by politicians.

This appointment to me seems based on strong credentials — with a little bit of politics sprinkled in — and will ultimately be judged by how DiSanto performs in her appointed role.

One vote does matter

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted recently revealed that a review of 110 recounts following the Nov. 5 election showed 35 local races and eight local issues in Ohio were decided by one vote or through breaking a tie.

Husted correctly points out that just one person could have made the difference to decide whether local taxes would go up and whether someone else would have served in important local offices, including township trustee, city or village council and school board.

That was the case in Middlefield Village where the council race for the fourth place — in this case the final spot on council — was decided by just one vote.


Geauga County Democratic Party monthly Spaghetti Dinner Served with Hot Top is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the party headquarters in Newbury Township. State Sen. Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard, plans to discuss a new bill being introduced by Ohio Senate Democrats to re-instate the Homestead tax exemption.

  • Bartolotta hosts a fundraiser, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at LaMalfa Party Center in Mentor. See John Redmond or Amy Sabath.
  • John P. O’Donnell, candidate for Lake County Common Pleas Court, hosts a fundraiser, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at LaMalfa Party Center. See Mike Lucas, Mike Bucci or Ann Bergen.
  • Lake County Domestic Relations Court Judge Colleen A. Falkowski hosts a fundraiser from 5:30 to 7:30 Jan. 30 at LaMalfa Party Center. See Brian Falkowski.
  • Lisa Klammer, candidate for Lake County Probate Court judge, hosts a fundraiser, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at LaMalfa Party Center. See Randy Klammer.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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