The forum provided a broad spectrum of candidate participation.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- State Rep. Sylvester Patton emphasized his seniority advantage; his Democratic primary opponent, Jerome McNally, focused on his city council experience; and the GOP candidate, William Sicafuse, stressed his majority party affiliation.
All three candidates for the 60th Ohio House seat spoke at a West Side Citizens League forum Tuesday at West Elementary School.
Patton said he now ranks 11th in seniority and sits on the state controlling board, which approves state spending.
Finance committee: This year, he said, he'll have the opportunity to serve on the powerful finance committee, which prepares the state budget. He cited his previous work experience at GM and Ohio Edison and as a service station owner, TV news photographer and social worker.
McNally cited his experience as a Youngstown councilman, which dates back to the 1970s, saying he wasn't afraid to take a stand on issues in the public interest, even when it got him into difficulty.
He said he was instrumental in getting Lake Milton dam repaired and making the lake a first-class recreational center. McNally said fiscal responsibility is paramount and the state should use its rainy day fund and balance the budget.
Sicafuse, a YSU student who grew up in Struthers, said that as a Republican he can give the Mahoning Valley a voice it does not now have in the House, where Republicans have 59-40 majority control. He said his major priorities are education funding and reform and economic re-development.
Others who spoke: Also speaking were Mahoning County Commissioner David Ludt and his Democratic primary opponents, Mike McNair and Joseph Naples.
Ludt cited numerous accomplishments during his tenure, including installation of video arraignment equipment in the county jail and common pleas and county courts, paving of an unprecedented 51 miles of county roads two years in a row, the purchase of 10 new dump trucks for the county engineer's department, installation of new emergency sirens, a successful job retention effort at Cold Metal Products, a new water tower in Sebring and 90,000 square feet of county-funded sidewalks in Youngstown.
"Job retention and infrastructure are my priorities," said Ludt, who previously served 20 years as a Poland Township trustee.
McNair, publisher of The Buckeye Review, decried the divided state of the Mahoning Valley, where, he said, the best and worst schools and crime statistics are only five miles apart.
He said that better communication and policies aimed at Valley unity are needed and that he is running because he believes the county needs "bold, visionary leadership. It takes leadership for us to talk and walk together," he said.
Councilman: Naples prided himself on his role as a Youngstown city councilman in development of Salt Springs Road Industrial Park and in creating an $8 million city budget surplus, but he lamented that too many young people are leaving the Mahoning Valley because of lack of local job opportunities in the new computer-based economy.
"We are the 10th largest populated county in the State of Ohio, and we are not even in the major economic loops of this state. We are losing future home buyers, future car buyers, future taxpayers," he said, adding that economic development would be a major priority for him.