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Ray, Drennen on right track as Youngstown councilmen

Published: Thu, April 21, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

It is not A STRETCH to describe the city of Youngstown’s future as shaky. The 18 percent decline in population from a decade ago — there are now 66,000 residents — with the resultant loss of income tax revenue, the anticipated reduction in state funding and possible cuts in federal money for community development programs point to tough times ahead.

Now, more than ever, Youngstown needs strong leadership in government, which means the executive and legislative branches working together. There have been some rough patches between Mayor Jay Williams and members of city council, but they understand that Youngstown’s future hangs in a balance.

The one thing city government must have is stability, which is why we are endorsing two incumbent members of council in the May 3 Democratic primary.

Councilmen Mike Ray, D-4th, and Paul Drennen, D-5th, are the only two lawmakers in contested races, but that should not be viewed as anything more than just politics. Ray, who has been in council for only four months, and Drennen, who is completing his first four-year term, have proved to be dedicated, hard-working legislators.

If elected, Ray would serve a full four-year term, while Drennen would be serving his second term. Their opponents in the primary — three in the 4th and five in the 5th — have not presented persuasive arguments for replacing the incumbents. Indeed, four candidates chose not to attend The Vindicator’s editorial board interviews that are a requirement for endorsement consideration. Therefore, George Doward and Howie Edwards in the 4th Ward race and former state Rep. Sylvester Patton and William Dallas in the 5th are ineligible.

Of those who did meet with members of the editorial board, none made a compelling case for his candidacy, nor detailed how the officeholders had failed to adequately represent their constituents.

4th Ward

One of Ray’s top priorities is community policing, which we have advocated for many years. His grandfather, Sam Montmore, was a police officer.

“It’s a vital part of keeping our neighborhoods and thus our city safe,” the councilman says of having officers on the streets.

His challenger, Milan Zordich, a retired city firefighter, seems sincere about serving and points out that the 4th Ward has been declining for the past 10 years. But he acknowledges that he does not know Ray, whom he describes as an “articulate, bright young man.”

We are concerned that Zordich is advocating policies, such as the fire department burning down vacant structures, that are unrealistic, but may resonate with residents.

Tearing down buildings is a lot more complicated, given federal environmental laws pertaining to asbestos and lead.

The retired firefighter also says members of council do not get paid enough because being a lawmaker is a tedious job.

We’re sure that the taxpayers of the city don’t share that view, seeing as how the legislators earn $27,817 for part-time work.

For his part, Ray has made demolition of vacant property a top priority and since he has been in office $100,000 has been spent through the neighborhood stabilization program.

We believe Ray is off to a promising start and deserves a full term.

5th Ward

In the 5th Ward race, Drennen, who has been active in various neighborhood revitalization efforts, especially the upgrading of the Idora Park area, and has played a major role in bringing a grocery store to the Fosterville area, has a firm grasp of the issues, especially with regard public safety.

Of the three challengers who met with newspaper’s editorial board, former Councilman Michael Rapovy was the least persuasive in discussing his candidacy. His criticism of Drennen’s commitment to the residents of the ward was without foundation.

The remaining two challengers, Anthony Catale, a member of the Youngstown school board, and Kevin Salata talk about the problems confronting the ward, but neither put forth a plan that is markedly different from what Drennen is doing.

While Salata’s candidacy left us cold, Catale’s presence in the race is puzzling. Why would a member of the city school board walk away at one of the most exciting periods of the district’s history? With all the initiatives that have been adopted, the future looks bright. Catale has served the system well in his first term; he’d have be a stronger future candidate for any other office if he had sought re-election.

In the contests for the Democratic nomination in the 4th and 5th wards, The Vindicator endorses councilmen Ray and Drennen.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Good of you people to see through Mike Rapovy's lack of qualifications. He was a terrible councilperson years ago and would be even worse today.

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2ipaidattention(68 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm so glad catale did not get the vindicator endorsement for the 5th ward, he is moving on from school board so he can change the city charter so he can run for mayor with the support of the hanni family. that's his only goal:self service and jobs to hanni puppets. MOVING FORWARD NOT BACK SORRY HANNI'S

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3Askmeificare(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago


"but that should not be viewed as anything more than just politics."

Nothing more than politics? What has drennen in the 5th ward really done to improve our city besides rubber stamping what he is told to do? The man has done incredibly little for our town and the people of the 5th ward.

"Of the three challengers who met with newspaper’s editorial board, former Councilman Michael Rapovy was the least persuasive in discussing his candidacy. His criticism of Drennen’s commitment to the residents of the ward was without foundation."

Are You Kidding? Rapovy not only echoed the voter sentiment, but spoke the FACTS as well. WHAT HAS DRENNEN DONE?! pulling liquor licenses are enough for the vindicator to justify endorsement?

the man, drennen, did not bring in nor locate a store in the 5th ward - it was the stores choice. If paul had that much economical 5th ward power and intelligence, then WHY HASN'T drennen PULLED THAT RABBIT OUT OF HIS HAT AGAIN AND AGAIN to help the city residents?

Answer: Drennen can't do it.

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4Askmeificare(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago


It's a shame George Doward in the 4th ward didn't go after the vindicators endorsement. Best wishes to ray and continued support of your friends and voters. enjoy it because it is said that it never lasts long.

"The remaining two challengers, Anthony Catale, a member of the Youngstown school board, and Kevin Salata talk about the problems confronting the ward, but neither put forth a plan that is markedly different from what Drennen is doing."

In the 5th ward salata is HUGELY GIVING BACK to the community AND he wants to reduce wards - will drennen do that - no drennen will not do that and even the mayor stated reducing wards may need to happen.

I suppose the vindy will endorse rufus hudson in the future just to lay the cake icing of ruin upon our community as well.

Does the vindy know better than the mayor what is best for the city of youngstown?

salata left the vindy cold - what does that mean? Didn't mayor williams echo a few of salatas statements about changing city government for the better?

"The one thing city government must have is stability... ".

The vindy wants government stability and who doesn't, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice efficient government. The cold comment toward salata doesn't begin to make sense unless he told the vindy to go to hell.

The vindy dumps big time, yet politely, on catale for running for council office and throws rapovy to the curb when in actuality BOTH catale and rapovy double speak and never answer any questions. catale doesn't come close to what rapovy can do for the city, if you need to compare them. just look how bad catale handled the BOE.

Why hasn't vindy dumped on catale for THAT?

Vindy is doing what it has always done and that is stir the pot and get the juices flowing of the reader and that is just what happened within this article. drennen and ray congratulations and though I am in a different ward I and many others will be watching for great government from you for our city and not misjudging and mislabeling as only the vindy knows how.

Having a grandfather as a police officer isn't going to get you a kiss, a pat on the back, a $27,817 paycheck for part time work from me.


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5YoungstownProud(12 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

"The remaining two challengers, Anthony Catale, a member of the Youngstown school board, and Kevin Salata talk about the problems confronting the ward, but neither put forth a plan that is markedly different from what Drennen is doing."

Wildly inaccurate. Kevin Salata has offered to:

-Reduce the size of the city council in order to reduce the budget.
-Give 10% of his council salary back to the community to make it safer with methods that work.
-Donate an additional $5,000.00 for the good of the fifth ward.

No other candidate has offered to do any of these things, especially the incumbent endorsed by the Vindy.

If you vote for an incumbent, expect the same results that you have now.

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6lovedrama(139 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Paul Drennen ha made several measurable promises. We in the 5th ward are still waiting to see if he delivers without excuse after excuse. There's still time for our votes Paul-simply do what you said you would and you will get re-elected.

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7thevindyforumpolice(4 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Askmeificare said, "just look how bad catale handled the BOE."

Do you have any examples to show how "bad" he handled the board? The kid ran for the board of education when they were in fiscal emergency and millions in debt. He was either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid to step up and take on that challenge. I know I couldn't do it. Especially when the board was stuck with Wendy Webb as superintendent because the previous board gave their sweetheart a long contract extension. I think my dog would have done a better job as superintendent. Don't forget the superintendent runs the schools.

I remember sitting at the Westside Citizen Coalition candidates night when he was running for the board and he stressed his pledge to fiscal responsibility. The kid stepped up on behalf of his colleagues on the board and became president to spearhead that effort. The district is now out of fiscal emergency and the kid oversaw the committee to hire the new superintendent after the board booted old Wendy. To me Catale deserves nothing but credit for doing as best a job as he could. You make more enemies than friends when your a vocal person like him. I didn't know who the heck he was before he ran for the board but he sure has earned my respect. We need more young people with passion like him and this city will get back on its feet. Time to replace the old timers like myself! :)

I live in the 5th ward and without a doubt I want Catale as my next councilman!

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8thevindyforumpolice(4 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Also, some of you are talking about Salata giving some of his pay back to the people- $5,000 to drug test anyone on public assistance. While I think that is an excellent idea, the city has no jurisdiction over public assistance dollars, so to create that type of a program would be illegal and the city would be paying thousands in legal fees to fight to have one. Also, does he realize how many people in the city are on public assistance? $5,000 wouldn't cover the cost to operate that type of program for more than an hour. Your talking about a HUGE EXPENSE TO THE TAXPAYERS to have that kind of program. Kind gesture but he would be better off dontaing the $5,000 fix up some of the homes in the ward.

It's obvious Salata doesn't have a handle on law and how government works so I don't see why some are advocating for him unless they are relatives or himself.

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9YoungstownProud(12 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Drug testing those who receive public assistance has been done on the state level. I'm not sure why it couldn't be done on the municipal level. Municipal, state or Federal level...who cares..just do it!



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10thevindyforumpolice(4 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Money for public assistance is provided from the federal government and state government and programs are run by the state government. Every state has its own regulations on public assistance and county departments of jobs and familiy services assist in giving out benefits according to state/federal regulations. The city cannot put its own regulations on public assistance benefits.

Even if it did have the power to do so there are two problems. One I stated in a previous post that it would be a HUGE COST INCREASE. Our city does not have the money to operate such a program without raising taxes, and neither does the state. Second, if Youngstown was legally able to do this (they aren't) and they had the money (which they don't), do you not think those on public assistance would relocate to another urban area where they could recieve their benefits without a drug test? Sure this sounds great lets get rid of these types of people, but how many people would be left here? 25-30 K? This would only drastically worsen our local economy. At the end of the day it will actually cost our area a great deal of money that we don't have so to me Salata's plan is just flawed logic.

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11boots109(81 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

i am sure allot of plans and talk went on as the titanic was sinking...if the city could not make it when it had more people working..how now???..and as if 26,000 for part time is not enough..
the only hope and possible future in the area is the coming marcelleus shall drilling,and the work it will bring..schools should be planning how to train the new work force..has the city been approached about any of its properties to sign a lease...lots of empty land there..and water from the filthy mah..river is a valuable commodity ...i hope so planns are in the works on how to take advantage..as other towns are,,but y-town seems to be behind..
the new pipe mill is just a start..

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