Traficanti, McNally earn confidence of the voters
Mahoning County commissioners Anthony Traficanti and John McNally are seeking re-election this year and both are opposed in the March 4 Democratic primary.
It should come as no surprise to readers that we strongly endorse Traficanti for a second four-year term. The commissioner’s leadership role in the relocation of the Job and Family Services agency from its decrepit offices in the Garland Plaza to superior quarters in the former South Side Medical Center facility is to be commended.
He stood up to the powerful Cafaro Co., owner of Garland, because he believed that the JFS employees deserved to work in a healthy environment — as opposed to a being in a building with a leaking roof, mold on the walls and other hazards.
Traficanti’s challenger is Eric Ungaro, who ran unsuccessfully for Youngstown’s 3rd Ward council seat. While Ungaro is enthusiastic and seems sincere, his contention that the incumbent is a “one pony show ... slayer of the Cafaros” is unfair and ridiculous.
Although the JFS issue has been a major story for the past year, the passage of the half-percent sales tax and the willingness of voters to make it permanent are a reflection of the public’s attitude today toward county government.
Traficanti, along with McNally and the third commissioner, David Ludt, deserve credit for winning over cynical taxpayers.
That brings us to the second election contest for commissioner in which McNally is being challenged by political newcomer Mary Roby Lyden.
On the JFS situation, the incumbent objected to the agency’s move to Oakhill Renaissance Place and was perceived to be receiving his marching orders from Cafaro Co. officials.
He has denied the charge that he put his friendship with Anthony Cafaro, chief executive officer of the company, before the interest of the county.
The Vindicator has delved deeply into McNally’s contacts with the Cafaro Co. during the legal battle that was waged between the county and the company, but we were unable to find any evidence of impropriety.
We discussed with McNally his ties to the Cafaros, but we have found nothing to lead us to the conclusion that he has given up the right to public office.
We would hope, however, that he is more careful in the way he conducts himself.
That said, we endorse McNally for re-election, knowing that he, Traficanti and Ludt have been able to provide government with a level of leadership that has been lacking for some time.
McNally’s opponent in the Democratic primary is hoping to capitalize on the JFS situation. However, Lyden provides no proof of any illegal or improper behavior on the incumbent’s part.
Both Ungaro and Lyden are to commended for putting their names on the ballot and committing the time and energy to ensure that the incumbents do not have a free ride.
However, they did not provide The Vindicator’s editorial board with a compelling reason not to support Traficanti or McNally.
The winner of the Traficanti-Ungaro race will face Republican Christopher J. McCarty in the November general election, while the winner of the McNally-Lyden contest will meet Republican Lisa S. Lotze.