Patton says he has a good relationship with Republicans; McNally says he doesn't waffle on the issues.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Two Youngstown men who faced each other on the ballot seven years ago are once again opponents in a primary election.
In the 1995 Democratic primary, Sylvester Patton Jr. ran against an incumbent Jerry McNally for the 5th Ward seat on Youngstown City Council. McNally beat Patton by about 160 votes.
Today, McNally is serving as the challenger, running against an incumbent Patton for the Democratic nomination for the 60th District seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. Patton was appointed to the seat in 1997 and elected in 1998.
McNally said he has no problem with the Mahoning Valley's representation in Columbus.
He added, however, that he felt Patton had failed to read and vote for a bill that would have given more state money to the Youngstown schools.
"In all the years I was on council, I've never let a piece of legislation go by that I didn't read," McNally said. He served on city council from 1972 until 1976 and from 1994 until 2000.
Patton replied that he reads analysis of state bills, and that he wasn't sure which bill was cited by McNally.
He said that if he is nominated and re-elected, he will work with the Republican majority in the state Legislature to ensure that the Mahoning Valley receives its share of state money.
Patton also stressed that he feels he has a good relationship with the general assembly's Republican leadership.
"[Speaker of the House Larry Householder] has an open-door policy with me," he said.
McNally, meanwhile, said he doesn't waffle on political issues.
"I may be right or wrong, but I'll take a stand," he said. "I'm not a fence-sitter."
The issues state representatives will be faced with in the coming term include the need to balance the state budget.
The state could face a deficit of $750 million during the next two-year fiscal term, which starts July 1.
Patton said he feels the state needs more revenue to balance the budget.
He said he would support increasing state tax on cigarettes to create that revenue.
Patton added, however, that he doesn't think Democrats have a plan to create needed revenue for the budget.
McNally, meanwhile, said he feels the state needs to dip into its $750 million contingency or "rainy-day" fund to balance the budget. He also said that he thinks Ohio residents should be able to vote on legalizing gambling, which could create state revenue.
Patton said he would have to read legislation on legalizing gambling before deciding how he feels on the issue.
He also said, however, that he is inclined to vote against that legalization, adding that gambling is an economic hardship for most of his district's constituents.