MAHONING, TRUMBULL COUNTIES Candidates respond to MRDD parent's poll

A campaign seeks greater support for MRDD parents.
LIBERTY -- Commissioner candidates in Trumbull and Mahoning counties say they support parents who care for their mentally retarded or developmentally disabled children in their own homes.
Further, most of the candidates who responded to a four-question survey pledged to appoint more parents of MRDD children as members of county MRDD boards.
Now, Marilyn Ellis-Gualandi, mother of a profoundly retarded adult son and the person who developed the questionnaire, said she is looking forward to working with the candidates who are elected to effect "needed" changes in the MRDD system.
A press conference, attended by MRDD parents and commissioner candidates, was Friday at the Liberty office of state Sen. Marc E. Dann, to make the results of the questionnaire public.
Further questions
Additionally, the questionnaire asked if the candidates favor having at least 50 percent of the members of MRDD boards be parents, and whether they would take steps to ensure that more county and state dollars paid for MRDD services go to the actual caregivers as opposed to corporate providers.
Ellis-Gualandi, of Johnston in Trumbull County, said she is pleased with the number of candidates who responded and with their responses.
Ellis-Gualandi, who spearheaded formation of the group Parents of Mentally Retarded and Developmentally Disabled Children and Adults, said she will disseminate the results of the questionnaire to as many parents of MRDD children as possible.
Also, she "challenged" parents in all of Ohio's 88 counties to take similar actions.
Trumbull County commissioner candidates who responded to the questionnaire by noon Friday were:
UDemocrats: Melissa M. Long, John D. Robertson, David C. Cook, Atty. Paul E. Heltzel, Joseph J. Angelo Jr., Daniel E. Polivka, Donald J. Barzak and Gwen Logan. Reginald F. Giancola Jr. did not respond.
URepublicans: Arno A. Hill. Michael Colello did not respond.
Mahoning County commissioner candidates who responded were:
UDemocrats: Atty. Mark Belinky, Atty. John A. McNally and Beth Stanko. David Ditzler, William Flickinger and Anthony Traficanti did not respond.
Additional comments
Most candidates answered the questionnaires without comment. However, Stanko, who said she has fostered 13 children, said she would appoint members to the MRDD board who will fight for parents who wish to care for their own MRDD children in their homes, "providing the parents are capable."
Heltzel said he needed more information before he could "intelligently respond" to the questions about appointing MRDD parents to at least half of the board positions and diverting more money to caregivers.
Belinky, who said he has worked with the Mahoning County MRDD for 12 years providing free legal services for children, agreed that parents should have a "strong representation" on MRDD boards, but was not certain 50 percent of appointees have to be parents.