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MAHONING COUNTY Mayoral candidates accused of not paying their taxes



Published: Thu, February 3, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Fortune paid the delinquency Wednesday.

YOUNGSTOWN -- The first salvo in the race for Youngstown mayor has been fired with accusations against two candidates that they are delinquent in paying their property taxes.

The Vindicator and other press received either a call or fax saying that Council President James E. Fortune Sr. and state Rep. Sylvester Patton of Youngstown, D-60th, haven't paid their delinquencies.

A check of records in the Mahoning County Recorder and Auditor's offices show that Fortune had a delinquency of $197.06, and Patton a delinquency of $190.27.

Records also show that Fortune paid his delinquency from 2003-04 and also his first-half property tax for 2004-05 on Wednesday. The taxes were for property on Dewey Avenue.

Property taxes are usually collected twice a year.

Fortune said everyone makes mistakes, and he's sure he's not the only one who ever forgot to pay his taxes.

"This is political, pure and simple," Fortune said during a break before city council's meeting Wednesday. He added, "The fact someone brought this up shows they are already trying to get me out of the race. That means they're afraid of me."

He declined further comment, especially since the back tax has been paid and the matter is no longer an issue.

A call was placed to Patton's home Wednesday night but he was unavailable to comment.

The tax records show the delinquency actually is in the name of Patton's wife, Juanell, at their Brentwood Avenue home. The annual tax for the year on the property is $344.82.

Candidates

Patton and Fortune have taken out petitions to run for mayor as has John Swierz, former councilman and council president, and Councilman Mike Rapovy, D-5th.

The county elections board said others who have taken out petitions, but not necessarily to run for mayor, are state Rep. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd; Police Chief Robert Bush Sr.; former city water commissioner Gary Thornton; Jay Williams, director of the city's Community Development Agency; and Joe Louis Teague of Youngstown. The filing deadline for the partisan primary is Feb. 17.

Records also show delinquencies for Thornton of $168.74 on his Woodford Avenue home and $1.96 on another parcel. Thornton said they would be paid, but he wonders why he is even being called by the press since he's not sure he's going to run for mayor.

"There is not a person anywhere that doesn't have a skeleton in their closet," Thornton said, adding that intense press scrutiny on every detail of a candidate's life is why many competent people choose not to run for public office, and that's why government can't be as effective as it should be.

He added he was seldom given kudos by the press for implementing many positive things in improving the water department that enhanced the city's general fund.




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