'We've had enough controversy and enough spectacle,' an incumbent board member said.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Two incumbents, a former city schools carpenter and an active parent leader won seats on the city school board, but the biggest surprise may be who didn't win: Don L. Hanni Jr.
Hanni, the bombastic former chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, placed a distant third in a field of five write-in candidates for a two-year unexpired term on the board that oversees the Mahoning and Shenango valley's largest school system.
Neil Buzzacco, who worked 30 years as a carpenter in the city schools before retiring in 1991, won the write-in race with 33.3 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. Clarence Boles placed second with 32 percent, with Hanni at 25 percent.
Many political observers thought Hanni's name recognition alone would push him to victory in the race that required voters to write in the candidate's name.
But Buzzacco, 69, said the Hanni name apparently doesn't carry the political power it once did.
"I was never concerned about him," Buzzacco said. "In this city, people who would have supported him just wouldn't be thinking right. We don't need the rowdyism that he creates."
Reaction: Incumbent Lock P. Beachum Sr., who was re-elected Tuesday, said he was not surprised Hanni lost.
"It just shows the people in Youngstown want its school system and the city to move forward," he said. "We've had enough controversy and enough spectacle."
Hanni said he was both happy and sorry he didn't win "because when you stop to think of the radical changes I would have made in the whole scheme of education in this community, the people are the real losers, not myself."
He added: "I'm a graceful loser, but I hate every... body in Youngstown who voted against me."
Winners: Eight candidates were on the ballot for three full, four-year terms: Beachum, a former city councilman, led the field with 19.6 percent of the vote, followed by Jacqueline Taylor with 16.4 percent and incumbent John Maluso with 15.9 percent, according to unofficial counts. Incumbent Marilyn Gonzalez finished out of the running with 14 percent of the vote.
Taylor, 50, a researcher in Youngstown State University's Center for Urban Studies, is the mother of two recent city school graduates, an organizer of The Rayen School Parent-Teacher Student Association and a tutor for children studying for the state proficiency tests.
"You need to know the people and the students to understand the system, and that's the knowledge I bring," she said.
Maluso, currently board president, said he likes the new make-up of the board.
"I'm only hoping that when we get in there that we keep focused, as I think this last board has been," he said. "There was very little rancor, and I don't expect there will be rancor on this new board. Rancor on a board knocks the hell out of it."