City council candidates target crime, blight

By David Skolnick


Only two of seven positions on Youngstown City Council will be voted on the Nov. 8 ballot.

And the lone citywide race is for clerk of courts between incumbent Sarah Brown-Clark, a Democrat, and Frank Bellamy, an independent.

In the 1st Ward, Councilwoman Annie Gillam, a Democrat, will face Adrian McDowell, an independent.

In the 5th Ward, Councilman Paul Drennen, a Democrat, will face Republican Plato Kalfas.

Both Gillam and Drennen are seeking their second four-year terms.

Drennen beat five challengers in the May Democratic primary.

Gillam ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

If re-elected, Gillam said her priorities are to decrease crime by being proactive rather than reactive, to create jobs and to push for strategic ways to demolish vacant structures.

“Our biggest issue has been demolition; we’re tired of how it’s done,” Gillam said. “We want to do more demolitions with city workers.”

Also, she wants strategic demolitions, such as demolishing all of the vacant structures in poor conditions on a city block rather than scattered demolitions throughout the city.

McDowell, running for office for the first time, said public safety “is a high priority on the list of concerns in which I plan to address.”

He wants to implement a “community enforcement agenda, which will strengthen our neighborhood watch groups as well as establishing community control teams.”

Those “community control teams” would “take a more proactive approach in the targeting and intervention of potential acts of violence before they occur,” McDowell said.

Drennen said his priorities remain the same as when he took office in January 2008: crime and housing.

Drennen wants the city to hire more police officers, something it will do shortly, and make sure houses considered dangerous are demolished.

Kalfas didn’t fill out a candidate questionnaire and didn’t respond to a request by The Vindicator for an interview.

Brown-Clark is seeking her third term as clerk of courts.

Brown-Clark said she wants to “continue the improvements and upgrades to the operations of” her office, and to be involved in a potential consolidation or merger of the courts in the area.

Bellamy, who lost the 2009 Democratic primary for the city’s mayor to Jay Williams, declined to include information about his candidacy on the questionnaire he submitted to the newspaper.

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