Incumbent David Ludt will be challenged in the fall by former Austintown Township trustee Jeffrey Groat.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Accountability seems to be a successful theme for Mahoning County Commissioner David Ludt.
When he ran for commissioner four years ago, it was on a platform of demanding accountability from public officials.
The platform for his re-election campaign was built on maintaining that accountability.
It worked both times.
Cruised to victory
Ludt, a 62-year-old tow truck driver from Poland, cruised to victory in Tuesday's Democratic primary, nearly doubling the vote totals of his challengers, Mike NcNair and Joseph Naples, both of Youngstown.
According to Tuesday' night's vote tally, Ludt hooked 19,804 votes, or nearly 53 percent. McNair, 49, publisher of the Buckeye Review, grabbed 8,937 votes, and Naples, 48, a Girard schoolteacher, gathered 8,899 votes.
Ludt will face Jeffrey Groat, a former Austintown Township trustee, in the November general election. Groat was unopposed in Tuesday's GOP primary.
"We've tried to bring accountability and credibility back to the commissioners' office, and I think the people appreciate that," Ludt said.
He was surprised and disappointed that a 0.5 percent county sales tax renewal was defeated, and said commissioners will have to continue proving their accountability and hope the measure passes in November.
The campaign trail, Ludt said, was one of the most quiet he has trod during his quarter-century in politics. Before becoming commissioner, he was a Poland Township trustee more than 20 years.
Ludt commended McNair and Naples for running a clean, issues-oriented campaign.
"We all decided we were going to take the high road," he said.
Ludt said he has worked hard to be a watchdog of the county's finances and has kept his promise to be a full-time commissioner, showing up at the office every day.
McNair said that he was disappointed in the election outcome but that "without a doubt" he will run again.
"When people think of alternative leadership for Mahoning County, I want them to think of me," he said.
This was the third time McNair bid for a seat in the commissioners' office. He tried unsuccessfully to be appointed to a vacancy in 1999 and ran unsuccessfully in 2000.
McNair's primary power base has been in Youngstown, but he said his support has gotten broader with each run for office.
He believes the fact that the primary was a three-way race opened the door for Ludt to walk into the general election with the party's nomination.
It was also difficult to overcome Ludt's incumbency and name recognition, he said.
Still, McNair tipped his hat to the winner and wished him well, especially in light of the county's uncertain financial future.
Naples, a former Youngstown city councilman, could not be reached to comment.