Incumbent council president Juanita Rich is facing challenger George Levendis in the November general election
Levendis, a project manager for a painting company, is making a first-time run for office.
“I just want to see some change in the city,” he said, adding that he’s been going to council meetings for more than two years.
His take on what the city needs? Attracting businesses is included, plus paying more attention to the ones that already are in the city.
“I would encourage hiring, maybe give tax breaks,” he said.
He cited the case of Liberty Maintenance, a bridge-painting company that used to be on Wilson Avenue but moved to Youngstown this year.
Levendis also said the city’s employees are long overdue for raises, but first, he acknowledged, the city must get out of fiscal emergency.
Levendis said he is not a politician, but that as a project manager for APBN, he deals with local, state and federal officials every day.
He said that if he is elected, he will not take health benefits through the city.
Rich became council president in January after George Krinos resigned as mayor. Then-council president Bill VanSuch became mayor in accordance with the home-rule charter, and Rich, as president pro tem, replaced him. She had been 4th Ward councilwoman for six years.
She also was elected to council beginning in 1989 for three terms.
She had three unsuccessful runs for mayor in 1995, 1999 and 2005.
Rich said her top priority is getting the city out of fiscal emergency, a status it’s had since 2004.
She also said it is important to attract businesses and bring in younger families.
“Because that’s the future,” she said.
She said demolishing abandoned properties and getting grants to pave roads also is high on the priority list.
Rich had challenged Levendis’ candidacy because he wrote that he was running for “president of council” instead of “council president” on his nominating petition.
Rich said the charter abolished the position of “president of council” in 1971, and the position had different responsibilities than that of “council president.” She also said he should have put an ending date for the term he is seeking on the petition, as per the Ohio Revised Code.
The Mahoning County Board of Elections disagreed that Levendis’ petition would confuse voters or that it violated state statutes. The board voted unanimously to disallow Rich’s protest.