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Mayor Williams: 'We've made a lot of progress'

Published: Sun, July 10, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.

RELATED: Hiring a police chief tops Sammarone’s list




Outgoing Mayor Jay Williams said he’s leaving Youngstown in better shape than it was before he took office in January 2006.

“There is work to be done, but we’ve made a lot of progress,” he said.

Others contacted to sum up Williams' legacy

compliment his vision for the city but say there is more that needs to be accomplished.

The national recession has impacted the city’s

finances, but Youngstown has finished each of

Williams’ five full years as mayor in the black. Also, the city is projecting a modest surplus for this year.

During the more than 51⁄2 years of Williams’

administration, the city has reduced the number of employees by about 150 with only 18 of them — seven full-timers and 11 who worked part-time — through layoffs.

Among his proudest achievements, Williams said, is the city’s negotiations with V&M Star to locate a $650 million pipe-mill expansion near the company’s location on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

“We’ve seen more sustained growth in the city by creating an environment for the private sector to come here,” Williams said.

The city’s economy “may not be what some people want, but without him it would have been a lot worse,” Council President Charles Sammarone said.

Williams is resigning as mayor Aug. 1 to become executive director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, effective a week later. The job is often referred to as the “auto czar.”

Williams will be replaced by Sammarone, as spelled out in the city’s charter.

During Williams’ time as mayor, the city’s downtown has enjoyed a renaissance with new businesses, restaurants and housing projects.

Also, major crime in the city declined during his tenure.

For example, the number of annual homicides dropped every year, except in 2007, from the previous year.

In 2005, the year before Williams took over as mayor, there were 34 homicides. There were 21 in 2010, and there have been just seven so far this year.

Though homicides have dropped, a few garnered national attention, including the murders of a pair of senior citizens in two separate South Side shootings, one in the parking lot of St. Dominic Church and the other a parishioner who was leaving the church. That parishioner’s wife also was seriously injured in the shooting.

Williams was quick to react to the murders, receiving assistance from state and federal law-enforcement officials to help crack down on crime.

He also ordered the demolition of 27 vacant houses near the church that were used for criminal activity.

“I’m pleased with the declining murder rate, but even one murder is one too many,” he said.

Williams also brought stability to the city-owned Covelli Centre.

When Williams took office, the center was managed by an outside company and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The mayor successfully negotiated an end to that contract and new deals with JAC Management of Struthers to run the center’s day-to-day operations and SMG of Philadelphia to serve as its management consultant.

Though the center doesn’t earn enough money to cover the debt the city incurred for building the center, it has ended the past two years with operational profits.

Williams, 39, gained national and international attention for Youngstown 2010, a land-redevelopment plan for the city that embraces its shrinking population.

The city shrunk significantly more than Williams had anticipated.

The U.S. Census Bureau said the city’s population declined by 18.4 percent between 2000 and 2010, going from 82,026 to 66,982. That’s the largest percentage decline among the state’s 25 most-populous cities.

When the 2010 population number came out in March, Williams called the population loss “shocking.”

Williams had expected the population to be around 72,000.

As the city’s Community Development Agency director, prior to becoming mayor, Williams was the face of the 2010 plan at a series of community meetings.

Despite the attention of the plan, which also helped launch Williams’ successful mayoral campaign, Youngstown 2010 has met with mixed results.

The report outlined plans for each of the city’s 31 neighborhoods. Progress in improving many of those neighborhoods is either slow-going or nonexistent.

“While we have an enormous amount of work needed, we’ve seen great progress” in some areas, such as the Idora Neighborhood and portions of the West Side, Williams said.

The mayor points out that since he took office in January 2006, 2,400 vacant and dilapidated homes were demolished and turned into green space as part of the Youngstown 2010 effort with about 140 more structures to be taken down this year.

The demolitions, likely more than during any other five-plus-year period in the city’s history, helped stabilize neighborhoods by removing blight and eliminating locations where illegal activity occurs, Williams said.

Phil Kidd, an activist who briefly worked for the city and is a community organizer for the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, said he moved to Youngstown seven years ago after reading articles in The Vindicator about the 2010 plan.

“I was impressed by Jay Williams,” Kidd said. “He’s a very talented and articulate person.”

Kidd worked on Williams’ winning 2005 mayoral campaign. Williams is the first black mayor in Youngstown and its first nonparty mayor since 1922. Williams was easily re-elected as a Democrat in 2009.

“What Jay Williams did was he was able to give a lot of hope and energy to the community,” Kidd said. “He inspired people to get involved with the city. From a political standpoint, he was a breath of fresh air and a break from the old political process.”

However, Kidd said he and others are frustrated that there is too much “unfinished business” from the 2010 plan.

“There could have been more focus” on implementation, he said, adding that he doesn’t know what it’s like to be mayor, and the job is a challenging one.

Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti, who spent five of her seven years on Youngstown council with Williams as mayor, said, “He was key in pursuing economic development projects. He brings strong value on economic development to the table.”

Regarding Youngstown 2010, Rimedio-Righetti said though “some things aren’t in place,” the mere fact that Williams had a “vision and a comprehensive plan” greatly benefits the area.

County Commissioner John McNally IV, who served as Youngstown’s law director when Williams was the head of the city’s CDA, said Youngstown 2010 will be at the top of Williams’ legacy list.

“I know people say he hasn’t pushed hard enough for it at times, but his vision as to how to deal with a shrinking community will be his legacy,” McNally said. “He deserves a lot of credit for putting the city on the right path.”

Sammarone, who will become mayor Aug. 1, said Williams, more than any other mayor, attracted national attention to Youngstown.

“He’s done a great job as far as I’m concerned,” Sammarone said. “The recognition he brought to the city and the work he did helping with economic development has been great.”


1FormerWestsider(23 comments)posted 5 years ago

Is this a joke? What progress?

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2YtownParent(1066 comments)posted 5 years ago

What a joke. Mayor Jay Williams is an out right liar, who only claimed independence because he couldn't get a party nomination, then quickly darted right back to the party once he was elected. He only was appointed to this waste of tax dollars position because he crawled back to the democratic party and gave it some independent street cred. Jay Williams is just as beholden to party and special interests as everyone else. And the budget surplus is an out right lie too. It doesn't exist, otherwise the police, fire, street, and park departments wouldn't be unable to perform their duties because of "budgetary constraints.

And we haven't gotten rid of him. Jay Williams will always have a home in Youngstown, because he made sure no one will ever be able to sell a home in Youngstown. Too bad we don't tar and feather crocked deceitful politicians on their way out of town. Maybe then their would be less of them.

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

Surely not better for . ..

Angeline Fimognari (killed at St. Dominics )

Thomas Repchic ( killed by St. Dominics )

Jamail E. Johnson ( killed nxt to YSU )

and many others . ..

Yes he did bring in millions to demolish and rebuild Westlake Terrace but life has went to crap for the workingman in Youngstown . Only after the State and Feds moved in has anything been done to curtail crime in Youngstown . Under Jays terms the drug dealers and criminals have flourished .

Jay did have a plan . . ..


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4rumppy(119 comments)posted 5 years ago

The Valley, The blame game is live and well why hasn,t any companies moved into the valley with all the land and tax shelters available? How come you cannot attract any new business? Unions, the valley abused(workers) what it was setup for . To protect the workers. You stole, wouldn't work for an honest day earnings. Took off, when you were healthy. Give me a break.
All your CEOs of companies sold us all out. Took the jobs overseas for profit. Took food out of your mouths,took jobs away from your families and than turn around and ask us to buy those same products. Come on now lets tell it like it is. Rich WHITE MEN the wealthy turned their backs on us all. The steel mills are not here, they are in China. You all got your head up your A-- for so long, that you can not think straight. Its not about Democrats, Republicans, Tea Parties, Independents, Its about the American people and whats best for all. They separate us,divide you, use race baiting and you intelligent people think that because you are a certain race or color that you will benefit more, Well guess what? Not anymore. College grads can't find jobs. Have to leave the area. India, Mexico, overseas. Cheap labor. We are an after thought of big business. And who run big business? Come on, I know, its hard for you to say it. THE WEALTHY, AND THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE YOU EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY BE WHITE. YOUR OWN SOLD YOU OUT FOR THE ALL MIGHTY DOLLAR.
No mayor can do anything to better the area without revenue sources. McKelvey, Ungaro had better sources but I don.t remember any better results. You need jobs in the area. JOBS< JOBS< JOBS.

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5Julie1(34 comments)posted 5 years ago

Mayor of Youngstown is a tough job. Kudos to Jay Williams for managing well through very difficult trends.

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6Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years ago

Progress???? Not quite. Can't leave soon enough Jay-ster.

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7UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years ago

His legacy: "FAILURE"

The population continues to drop in the city to the lowest point in many many decades, and the city economy is in shambles among the highest tax rates in the state. The guns and drugs rule this city with all the criminal activities.

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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

I believe that Jay is well qualified to handle the position of Auto Czar . The most demanding part of which will be getting Barack Obama votes for 2012 in The Valley and signing his paycheck . Being very savvy and knowing that cars have four wheels he will be able to handle the technical aspects of the job .


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9AtownAugie(891 comments)posted 5 years ago

Things don't change much -- while "Water Czar" he had to contend with two big boobs in Austintown. As "Auto Czar" he has two other boobs to deal with, named Barry and Joe. A theme unfolds....

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10lovedrama(139 comments)posted 5 years ago

“While we have an enormous amount of work needed, we’ve seen great progress” in some areas, such as the Idora Neighborhood and portions of the West Side, Williams said

What is there to brag about anywhere in these neighborhoods? Can anyone fill me in?

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11Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

“What Jay Williams did was he was able to give a lot of hope and energy to the community,” Kidd said."


The sad part is that until the State and the Feds joined forces not much was being done .

Jay did have a plan . . ..


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12James_S(268 comments)posted 5 years ago

Youngstown is a victim our federal, state and local governments' globalization of our country, our state and our cities. Our politicians are in complete compliance with the government's forced globalization.

Our EPA, which is part of the EXECUTIVE Branch of our Federal government, with Obama currently at the helm, destroyed the steel industry in this country with the Clean Air Act when it was significantly amended in 1977 by Congress during Carter's Administration. Recall Black Monday? (Don't worry, the Republican's are equally involved in this, perhaps moreso.)

Our steel mills had to comply with the EPA or shut down. And that they did.

ASBESTOS, NATURE'S PERFECT INSULATION MATERIAL was "attacked" by our EPA, thus forcing the remaining AMERICAN industries in this country to have it removed (which is very, very costly- i.e., V & M Star Youngstown).

(The Twin Towers of 911 WERE LADEN WITH ASBESTOS. The "fellow" who owned the Twin Towers, which were at the time financially strapped due to low leasings which were too expensive for companies, "conveniently" had taken out an insurance policy for ~$1.5 million just a month before 911. He was "awarded" over $3 million after his Towers tumbled.)

The EPA has put restrictions on the combustion of gasoline exhaust, the first being the catalytic converter. Now CO2 emissions from gasoline combustion are under attack because CO2, to THEM is this dangerous "greenhouse" gas, the main cause, THEY SAY, of THEIR Global Warming (HOAX). The last oil refinery to be built in the U.S.A. was in 1980.

V & M STAR is a subsidiary of VALLOUREC & MANNESMANN TUBES a Vallourec Group Company which is based in France which is part of the EUROPEAN UNION..

This taken from http://www.vallourec.com/en/

In 2010 Vallourec announced an investment of $650 million to build a new tube mill in Youngstown, Ohio to support the long-term development of unconventional gas production in the United States (shale gas). The new plant will have a nominal annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes of seamless tubes. Start-up is planned for late 2011. This project will lead to the direct creation of 350 new jobs.

"...Vallourec announced an investment of $650 million to build a new tube mill in Youngstown, Ohio..." THEY MAKE IT SOUND LIKE IT IS THEIR MONEY THEY ARE INVESTING!!!


"Among his proudest achievements, Williams said, is the city’s negotiations with V&M Star to locate a $650 million pipe-mill expansion near the company’s location on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard."

Mtr. Williams, along with ALL (99%) of our politicians are willing accomplices to the raping of America through the forced globalization that THEIR federal government has enforced upon us.

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13northsideart(111 comments)posted 5 years ago

As soon as Williams took office the neighborhood that my family has been living in for years became a complete cess-pool with dealers on the corner, loud noise through the night, large groups of kids fighting, etc. Pat yourself on the back for bringing some bars and other entertainment to downtown Youngstown, Jay!, but you did jack squat to elevate the standard of living for the people who actually live in the city.

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14northsideart(111 comments)posted 5 years ago



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15leftyompton4life(79 comments)posted 5 years ago

The only way you a**holes would be happy if someone lined your pockets with f****** $100.00 bills. There is no making anyone in Youngstown happy....ever...and never will be. No one actually likes good news....you expect Youngstown to fail, and none of you are really any help to any cause..you sit behind your cpu's and complain and cry and bitch and moan like toddlers....

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16Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

Well lefty, if I ever make it to mayor I'll save you a position at the wastewater treatment plant . . .. This way you can put up a stink and no one will notice . . ..

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17James_S(268 comments)posted 5 years ago

@ northsideart-
Thanks. I'm just telling the TRUTH that I've learned over the years.

"Truth is tyranny in the Empire [the NWO] of Lies [coming from the LIARS WHO OWN OUR GOVERNMENT AND OUR POLITICIANS WHO WILLINGLY SERVE AND OBEY THEM].- Ron Paul (with my little extra added goodies in [ ] :^)

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18James_S(268 comments)posted 5 years ago

Stan- another in a long line of good ones... LOL.

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19juggygails(24 comments)posted 5 years ago

@Johnyoung- You obviously do not know Mayor Williams very well. He has accomplished many things including turning around the Covelli Centre that McKelvey screwed up, spuring development downtown during a depression with the VXI call centre and many other small projects, I wont give him credit for reducing crime anymore then I blame him for increased crime. Let's face it he can only do so much there. Increased demolitions where there was no money. Lots of road repairs. More in the last 3 years then I have seen in the last 10 years it seems. Dont forget he has had a lot of issues to deal with. Windows falling out of buildings, police chief retiring, he lost his city engineer then had that whole college degree fiasco to deal with. He also worked with V&M and was able to reach an agreement with that crazy pizza guy in Girard to make sure he didn't screw that up. He should have pushed the JEDD thing more. But other then that he did a good job. You have no idea what you are talking about.

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20Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

Who wants this job ? . . ..


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21Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 5 years ago

Good luck JAY and hope you can send some jobs back here
I see Stan got in 5 hate comments out of 31 that better then 10% . Your getting better . Next time try for 20% and maybe you can win the BOOBY PRIZE .

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22Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

Freeatlast :

"Good luck JAY and hope you can send some jobs back here "

You'll have as much luck on the jobs as I had of him cleaning house on the SouthSide criminals . I do believe however that he will bring back some pork to reward Barack Obama voters .

There was no hate in the killing of Angeline Fimognari or Thomas Repchic . Only the criticism of it is hate .

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23USNBOY(76 comments)posted 5 years ago

Jay Williams is just Youngstown's version of Lebron James. Good riddance! Have fun on the "dream team". DO NOT COME BACK!!! Now we can try to get a mayor in there that doesn't take any BS and aims to get rid of stupid ideas like residents with radar guns and start slamming the welfare collecting, drug dealing, murdering, gangbanging, low life bottom feeding pond scum so frequently found in Youngstown. One who knows what Youngstown once was and bust his butt to restore it to that time period. Youngstown was once a great place to live. People worked hard, took care of their homes and property, helped their neighbors, people weren't afraid to take walks after dinner, you know? LIVE LIKE HUMAN BEINGS! What happened to that? Who let it get that way? I blame YEARS of corrupt people in local Gov. and didn't give 2 hoots about what happens cause they lived in a suburb and they would rather have Youngstown go to crap than Boardman, Canfield or Poland. I also blame YPD for being too busy sitting in Dunkin Donuts than take the time to push these low lives out of the city when it was just here and there. Now we only have 1 good side of Youngstown...OUTSIDE!

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24TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 5 years ago

Since Phil Kidd is a community organizer is he going to be on the 2012 presidential ticket?

Nothing in this article mentions the legacy Mayor Williams leaves behind on the south side. It is now comparable to a major world region...The Gaza Strip.

How in the hell is a Car Czar going to send jobs to Youngstown? The area is already saturated with car jobs. You be jivin'.

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25USNBOY(76 comments)posted 5 years ago

JIM TRAFFICANT FOR MAYOR!!!! He may be a felon but he's like John Wayne Toilet Paper when I comes to politics! He's rough, tough, and don't take no crap from anyone!

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26juggygails(24 comments)posted 5 years ago

@ johnyoung: I didn't say everything was fixed. We are moving in the right direction though. I have noticed a lot of demolition, a lot of roads getting paved etc. It will take decades to truly turn the city around. The biggest part of that is the residents themselves. Parents must parent their kids. Hopefully the new Mayor will continue Jays efforts. After reading the article it seems that he wants to get City council more involved in day to day decisions. I am not sure that is the best idea. Having 7 or 8 people making decision will result in ineffective government. Finally your thought that he is going to have a massive change in his administration is questionable I think that a large change over in management is unlikely the City still has to operate.

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27Westsider(269 comments)posted 5 years ago

Progress?? The west side of the city now looks like the north, east and south sides. Our home is now worth only a few thousand dollars more than when we purchased it twenty-five years ago. The school system is a mess - Youngstown city taxes are the highest in the state. Great job, Jay!

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28city_resident(528 comments)posted 5 years ago

The other sides of town fell into disrepair due to apathy. The solution to problems that would arise was often "just move to the suburbs." Now, the same thing is happening to the west side. If you're going to blame Mayor Williams for this, then you need to also blame every other mayor going back 20-30 years.

How is it the mayor's fault that banks are selling their foreclosed properties for pennies on the dollar?

I haven't had time to read your posts thoroughly, but kudos for suggesting solutions, instead of just complaining.

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29Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

leetorres :

"It's not up to a mayor to change this city it is up to us..."

You right Lee . . .. The Mayors job is to simply spend his paycheck in any manner that he sees fit . . ..

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30uptowngirl(139 comments)posted 5 years ago

I guess it just depends on what you consider progress. How many days were the schools closed because the streets were not plowed during Jay's administration??

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