POLITICAL FORUM 5 mayoral hopefuls offer ideas
The candidates each had up to eight minutes to speak.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- There's still more than four months before the Nov. 8 election, but five of the six mayoral candidates discussed their platforms and visions of the city at the first of what is expected to be several forums.
The Regional Chamber sponsored Friday's forum at the Byzantine Center at the Grove on Shady Run Road. The event packed the room with about 175 people listening as the five received up to eight minutes to discuss their candidacy.
Those attending were:
U State Sen. Robert F. Hagan, the Democratic nominee.
U Robert C. Korchnak, the Republican nominee.
U Brendan Gilmartin, Maggy Lorenzi and Jay Williams, independent candidates.
Joe Louis Teague, also an independent candidate, arrived late and missed the forum.
Hagan, the winner in last month's seven-man Democratic primary, said he's "running against crime, blight and apathy in this city."
Youngstown needs to focus on its attributes, including its manufacturing companies, and Youngstown State University's business and music programs as springboards to improving the city, Hagan said.
Hagan said he is "willing to do anything to bring business to this city." That includes providing economic incentives, installing infrastructure in areas to make them "shovel-ready" for companies to build, cleaning up brownfield sites and making the city safe and clean.
Hagan didn't bring up reducing the city's 2.75 percent income tax, the highest municipal income tax in the state. The tax was 2.25 percent until January 2003. In the past, Hagan said he couldn't promise he'd reduce the tax.
What Lorenzi wants
If elected, Lorenzi said she would work to roll back 0.25 percent of that tax. She said the city hasn't done enough to make sure it collects all the income tax it is entitled to receive.
"It was easier to add on than to collect," she said.
Lorenzi also said she wants the city to establish an independent audit committee, restructure its police department and implement central purchasing.
As for the income tax, Williams said it would be irresponsible to say that he would roll it back if elected. Each 0.25-percent cut would mean a loss of income to the city of about $3.5 million to $4 million, he said. But Williamsnoted he is committed to focusing on that tax if elected.
He also wants to concentrate on retaining, attracting and expanding businesses in the city by offering tax incentives as well as making the city safer, and improving the quality of life in Youngstown.
Williams resigned in April as the director of the city's Community Development Agency to run for mayor.
"What differentiates Jay Williams from other candidates is I have the vision and passion to direct this city," he said. "I'm the only candidate who's served in an executive position in the city and the private sector."
Korchnak said he wants to make the city business-friendly by rolling back a portion of the city's income tax.
He also wants to remove blight, and work with other nearby communities to consolidate services to save money.
Gilmartin said the city needs to focus on the arts and continue to forge a close relationship with Youngstown State University.
Gilmartin called himself a proponent of gambling, but doesn't necessarily support allowing casinos into the state. He would prefer to have an off-track horse racing betting facility in the area.