Only two of seven incumbents on Youngstown City Council face challenges in the May 3 Democratic primary.
In the 4th Ward, Councilman Mike Ray, appointed to the job in December by Mahoning County Democratic precinct committee members from that ward, is facing challenges from Milan Zordich, a retired city firefighter, and from George Doward and Howie Edwards for a full four-year term.
In the 5th Ward, Councilman Paul Drennen is seeking his second four-year term. He faces challenges from former Councilman Michael Rapovy, former state Rep. Sylvester D. Patton Jr., school board member Anthony Catale, Kevin E.J. Salata and William Dallas.
Ray said if he’s elected, he’ll focus on increasing community policing, using federal grant money for housing demolition and working with the administration to attract new companies as well as providing resources for those in the city looking to expand.
Zordich said the best way to improve the city’s economic development is to be vigilant in having strong safety forces.
“To fight crime, we have to start with the little things like cleaning up the neighborhoods and eliminate blight,” Zordich said.
Doward and Edwards couldn’t be reached by The Vindicator to comment.
In the 5th Ward, Drennen said he’s been involved actively in the Idora Neighborhood revitalization project and worked with the city administration to attract a full-service grocery store to the Fosterville neighborhood.
If re-elected, Drennen said he’d continue to work to add staff to the city’s police, fire and street departments.
Rapovy, a former eight-year councilman who couldn’t run for re-election in 2007 because of the city’s term-limits law, said Youngstown needs to reduce its budget, such as selling the city-owned Henry Stambaugh Golf Course.
Rapovy also wants to increase revenue by closely monitoring those who do construction work in the city, but don’t pay Youngstown’s 2.75-percent income tax.
Catale said the city needs a staffing analysis to see what positions can be eliminated to save money.
“We must look at areas to sacrifice to find money to hire police officers,” he said.
Salata said there needs to be “independent thinkers,” such as himself, on council to move the city forward.
The city needs to focus its finances on hiring police officers and firefighters, he said.
If elected as a Youngstown councilman, Salata said he’d push Ohio lawmakers to establish a program for mandatory drug testing to whoever receives public assistance.
Dallas couldn’t be reached to comment. Patton declined an invitation to meet with the newspaper’s editorial board to discuss his candidacy.