Election for Youngstown judge is steeped in political intrigue

Youngstown voters will have an interesting choice to make in November regarding the municipal court judge race.

While all three candidates – assuming Mark A. Hanni is certified as an independent by the Mahoning County Board of Elections next month – have lived in the city, their most recent relocations to Youngs-town are relatively recent.

Also, for two of the candidates, their voting histories are curious.

Martin Hume, who won the Democratic primary earlier this month, changed his voter registration to his Fifth Avenue home on Sept. 26, 2016. He’s voted in Democratic primaries in Youngstown the past three years. Before that, he was a steady Democratic voter in Liberty in Trumbull County, where he lived for about 12 years.

Renee DiSalvo, the Republican nominee and current judge, has a long history of voting Democratic, according to the county board of elections.

She voted in Democratic primaries in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. Six of those were presidential primaries, including the most recent one three years ago.

DiSalvo voted Republican for the first time in the May 2018 primary, which was about three months before she applied for the appointment to a vacant Youngstown judicial seat. Di-Salvo was the only registered Republican to seek the appointment. The county Republican Party had a screening committee that recommended her and two others to then-Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, for the seat.

Also of note is Aug. 17, 2018, was the deadline to apply to the county GOP screening committee for the appointment and DiSalvo changed her voter registration from Poland to Comanche Trail in the city three days later.

Kasich appointed DiSalvo on Oct. 23, 2018, effective Nov. 5, to fill the unexpired term, which runs through Jan. 1, 2020.

DiSalvo was registered to vote in Poland and Boardman since at least 2004 until the Aug. 20, 2018, change to Youngstown, according to board of elections records.

The board will meet next month to certify independent candidates, including Hanni for municipal court judge.

Hanni is seeking to become a Youngstown Municipal Court judge for the third time in two years. On top of that, he unsuccessfully sought an appointment for a Mahoning County Court judicial vacancy that was filled earlier this year. He also wanted to be selected for a vacancy last year on the 7th District Court of Appeals, but then withdrew his nomination.

Hanni is considered an independent under state law because he didn’t vote in the May 7 primary. He hasn’t voted in a partisan primary since 2016, but he was all over the place before that.

In 1998, he voted in the Democratic primary. Then, Hanni voted Republican in 2002, 2004 and 2006. He switched to Democrat in the 2008 primary and voted that way in 2010, 2012 [he unsuccessfully ran that year as the party’s nominee for a 7th District Court of Appeals seat], 2014 [he was the party’s nominee for a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judicial seat that year, but withdrew before the general election], and 2016.

He’s also changed his voter registration location quite a few times.

Hanni last did so April 12 to South Schenley Avenue in Youngstown. May 6 was the deadline for independents to file for the city’s municipal court seat.

He listed 47 Central Federal Street, Realty Tower Apartments in downtown Youngstown, from 2010 until Aug. 17, 2018, as his residency with the board of elections.

Hanni ran in the November 2017 election as an independent for municipal court judge, losing to Democrat Carla Baldwin while receiving 34.2 percent of the vote. When the other municipal court seat opened because of a retirement, Hanni sought the appointment. A Mahoning Republican Party screening committee rejected him as one of the three finalists for the position that went to DiSalvo.

He changed his voter registration Aug. 17, 2018, to a Boardman address, and applied for an appointment to a county court seat by the Dec. 7, 2018, deadline.

The Mahoning GOP screening committee selected three finalists Jan. 25, 2019, to forward to Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, with Hanni again not making the cut. Hanni complained that then-county Republican Chairman Mark Munroe had a grudge against him and after not being named a finalist, he contacted DeWine’s office seeking support. He did the same thing with Kasich when the county party rejected him as a finalist for a Youngstown court seat.

In his latest effort to get elected to a judicial seat, he changed his registration back to Youngstown April 12.

In 2000, he listed his father’s law office on West Boardman Street in Youngstown as his residence with the board of elections and later that year changed it to a place in Boardman.