McNally’s seat draws lots of attention

On the side

Paper-ballot fan: Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti likes the county’s new paper-ballot system even though his first experience with it was far from perfect.

Traficanti said the optical-scanner machine wouldn’t accept his completed ballot because poll workers forgot to remove a paper tab from the bottom of it before handing it to him.

After three attempts, Traficanti said a poll worker came over to help, and was a little too helpful.

The poll worker took the ballot, removed the tab and fed it into the machine, Traficanti said.

The commissioner said he’s fairly sure the poll worker wanted to see how he voted on state Issue 2, a failed proposition on the ballot to restrict collective-bargaining rights for public employees.

Time for R&R: I will be on vacation, so there won’t be a column next Friday.

An open seat in the Mahoning Valley politics usually attracts a lot of candidates.

So when Mahoning County Commissioner John McNally IV said he would not seek re-election to a third four-year term next year, it quickly opened the flood gates.

Also, McNally is “strongly considering” a run for Youngstown mayor in 2013 in a race that almost certainly will not have a sitting incumbent seeking the spot.

Dec. 7 is the filing deadline for those running in March 2012 primaries for county seats.

McNally’s decision didn’t come as much of a surprise to me as I’d heard for a couple of months that he was giving consideration to not seeking re-election.

It apparently didn’t shock too many others.

Potential candidates had already contacted key Democrats to discuss their interest in that commissioner’s seat if McNally opted not to run again.

Among those are Austintown Township Trustee David Ditzler, a former county Democratic chairman who lost the 2004 primary to Commissioner Anthony Traficanti, and Walter “Buzz” Pishkur, director of business development for United Water, and the former head of Forum Health and Aqua Ohio.

Former Boardman Trustee Robyn Gallitto is also looking at the position.

Domenic Delmonte, a truck driver and heavy-equipment operator, started raising money for his campaign months ago.

Richard “Oz” Ouzounian — who got 1.91 percent of the vote in an ill-conceived write-in campaign for commissioner in 2006 — said he was running the day after McNally’s Monday announcement.

There will likely be others filing or giving strong consideration to replace McNally right up to the Dec. 7 deadline.

A few Democratic insiders question if McNally will run for Youngstown mayor claiming his announcement is a graceful way for him to get out of politics.

McNally was among those indicted on criminal conspiracy charges related to the relocation of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services to Oakhill Renaissance Place.

McNally maintains his innocence. All charges were dismissed in July 2011 after prosecutors said their inability to obtain tape recordings held by the FBI and provide them to defense lawyers made it impossible to proceed with the case.

McNally, a former Youngstown law director, said, “As far as I’m concerned, a criminal investigation [of me] is done.”

If nothing comes of Oak-hill, McNally is the likely front-runner for mayor in 2013.

Other potential candidates include Youngstown council President Jamael Tito Brown, state Rep. Robert F. Hagan, Councilman John R. Swierz and Councilwoman Janet Tarpley.

Charles Sammarone, the city council president who automatically became mayor in August when Jay Williams resigned to join the President Barack Obama administration, said when he took office that he was 99 percent sure he wouldn’t run for the job in 2013.

After being on the job for three months, Sammarone said, “With all the work, it’s [now] more like 99.5 percent.”

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