Council selects new downtown director

By David Skolnick

Thirty-nine applied for the city job, but council refused to make the applications public.

YOUNGSTOWN — City council selected the Ohio Democratic Party’s former Mahoning Valley regional director to replace Phil Kidd as the city’s downtown director of special events and special projects.

The process of selecting Lyndsey A. Hughes, of Park Avenue on the city’s North Side, was somewhat unusual.

She wasn’t the first choice for the job for three of the six council members who voted Thursday.

After council discussed the appointment in executive session, Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, recommended Alicia Lawrence for the job. The motion died when no one on council seconded the recommendation.

A vote cannot be held on a motion if no one seconds it.

Then Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, recommended Tracey Winbush. Again, no one offered to second the motion, so no vote was taken.

Next up was Councilman John Swierz, D-7th, who nominated Gail Stark. Different nominee, same result.

Councilman Jamael Tito Brown, D-3rd, then nominated Hughes. Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd, seconded the nomination, and council voted 6-0 in favor of hiring Hughes. Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti, D-4th, supported Hughes.

With Councilman Paul Drennen, D-5th, a Hughes supporter, not at the meeting, the nomination would have failed if Gillam, Tarpley and Swierz didn’t vote for her.

But that would only have delayed the inevitable, Brown said, because Hughes had the support of four of council’s seven members.

A decision was made in executive session to permit the three to nominate their candidates at the public meeting, Brown said.

“They wanted to publicly advocate for their candidates,” he said.

Council members said last month that the annual salary would range from $34,000 to $41,000, based on experience.

Though council didn’t discuss Hughes’ annual salary during the meeting, Brown said afterward that it would be the same as Kidd’s: $41,124.

Hughes, 25, served as the state Democratic Party’s Valley director from October 2007 until Nov. 14, when the party eliminated the regional positions.

“I’m really passionate about the city,” said Hughes, a 2006 Youngstown State University graduate who’s lived here since 2002. “I’m taking the political hat off and giving this a shot. I’m extremely excited. I’m going to build on the programs Phil started.”

Hughes will start her new job shortly.

Kidd, 29, resigned effective Monday to work for the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative. He spent less than a year working for the city.

Council selected Hughes among 39 applicants for the job.

City council and Clerk Valencia Morrow wouldn’t permit The Vindicator to review the candidates’ applications even after the vote was held. The applications were in Morrow’s office. Brown and Morrow said the applications would be available today.

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