MAHONING COUNTY Local Dems lambaste McKelvey

The party may reconsider endorsing candidates.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The hierarchy of the Mahoning Democratic Party attacked Youngstown Mayor George M. McKelvey today as a failed and desperate politician in response to his decision to cross party lines and endorse the re-election of President Bush.
"Some of us have been onto him for a long time," said state Sen. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd. "He's never come to one Democratic function or gave one dime to any Democrat. We have to have a litmus test to run as a Democrat."
Because of McKelvey's decision, Hagan said he will urge county party leadership to bring back endorsements, something eliminated in the mid-1990s. Mahoning Democratic Chairwoman Lisa Antonini said it is something the party will consider after the November general election.
"There needs to be something in place," she said. "I don't know what it is. But the party needs to say, 'This is the Democrat we're behind, or this one is not qualified.'"
Press conference
Local Democratic and labor officials held a press conference today in front of an abandoned home at 158 Bruce St., which has another abandoned house on one side and an empty lot on its other side.
"This location represents George Bush's lack of concern for cities, and it speaks volumes that George McKelvey is embracing George Bush's leadership," she said.
McKelvey could not be immediately reached to comment today after the press conference.
But he has previously said that he expected to be criticized and be called names by the local party establishment. McKelvey has also stated he has no use for the local Democratic Party.
The feeling is mutual, Antonini said.
"Mayor McKelvey's endorsement of George Bush represents a true lack of vision endorsing a lack of vision," she said. "It is two self-serving politicians embracing each other."
No provision for recall
There is no provision in the city charter to recall a mayor, but Antonini said she's received several inquiries about it from city residents after McKelvey endorsed Bush on Monday.
State Rep. John Boccieri of New Middletown, D-61st, said McKelvey is incorrect when he says the president can help save the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna. McKelvey said the base will compete with the 911th station in Pittsburgh, the home of Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Boccieri, an Air Force Reserve major based at the Vienna station, said a study done of the facility shows that the two are not in competition with each other. Also, under the federal base realignment and closure policy, the president can only accept or reject the entire recommendation of the commission that is deciding the fate of the bases, he said.
"The president gets an up or down vote on the whole thing," Boccieri said. "To say, 'A vote for Kerry would be a vote to close the base' is baseless."

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