YOUNGSTOWN Wards vote on racial lines in municipal judge race
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Wards in Youngstown with large black populations voted for Judge Robert Douglas Jr., who is black, and the two wards with a majority of white voters cast their ballots for Anthony Farris, who is white.
The difference in Tuesday's Democratic primary for Youngstown Municipal Court was that the black wards had larger turnouts than the white wards.
"This race was important to the African-American community, and the vote was an expression of that," Judge Douglas said. "There's an interest there because I'm only the second African-American judge ever in the city."
Judge Douglas dominated Farris in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th Wards, which have large black populations.
Vote breakdown: A breakdown of the judicial vote provided by the Mahoning County Board of Elections showed Douglas did not lose any precincts in those four wards. His best precinct was 1G on Glenwood Avenue near the Mill Creek Community Center, where he beat Farris by a 133-to-1 vote.
Farris got under 15 votes in 16 other precincts.
Farris, an assistant city prosecutor, said he had a conversation Wednesday with Judge Douglas about the race issue.
"A large portion of the African-American community felt they had to unite behind him," Farris said. "Race certainly played a factor. There was a strong turnout on the part of African-American voters."
Farris enjoyed big victories in the 4th and 7th Wards, not losing any precincts in those two areas. Judge Douglas received under 15 votes in three precincts in the city.
In the 5th Ward, which is considered a mixed black-white area, Judge Douglas won by 163 votes over Farris.
Precinct breakdown: Douglas did well in precincts that include voters living on and near Clearmount Drive, West Myrtle Avenue and West Princeton Avenue, black sections of that ward. Farris was the winner in precincts that house voters living on and near Kirk Road, South Schenley Avenue and Canfield Road, white parts of the 5th Ward.
"The black vote was mobilized," said Bill Binning, chairman of the Youngstown State University's political science department. "This was viewed in particular by the black community as a very important race. Apparently the white vote was not too struck by it."
Jeff Limbian, a former city prosecutor and law director, and Robert Bush Jr., the current city law director, have filed as independent candidates to run against Judge Douglas in the Nov. 6 general election.