Voters should have the chance to decide Sammarone’s future

Youngstown Mayor Charles P. Sammarone says he will be talking to his family over the holidays about the possibility of his running for election next year — a prospect he discussed with The Vindicator late last week.

While the field for the 2013 mayoral race has not been finalized, Sammrone’s presence would accomplish two things:

One, his candidacy would give the voters of Youngstown the opportunity to evaluate his performance in office since August 2011.

A veteran of city politics, Sammarone filled the vacancy created by the resignation of Mayor Jay Williams, who joined the administration of President Barack Obama. The retired city school educator was council president when Williams left, which resulted in his moving up to the mayor’s job. He has also served as water commissioner and 5th Ward city councilman.

Two, Sammarone’s presence in the race would give city residents a standard by which to judge the other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination next year. There are two who have already filed petitions: Commissioner John A. McNally IV, who chose not to seek re-election to the county office; and, Matthew Smith, who has run before.

There will be other candidates of substance by the time the filing deadline in February rolls around, which is why Sammarone’s presence in the race would be good for the city.

Regular readers of The Vindicator’s editorial page would not be surprised by our positive reaction to the prospect of the mayor being on the ballot next year.

We have unequivocally endorsed his agenda, foremost of which is to change the attitude of city employees with regard to those who pay their salaries: the taxpayers.

Sammarone has come with up with a saying about workers who don’t earn their keep that well applies to every level of government: “They’re stealing time.”

Think about it: Every minute a public employee does not spend doing the people’s work is a minute stolen those who pay his or her salary — the taxpayers.

Since taking office a year and four months ago, the mayor has laid down the law when it comes to city employees. Given that their base salaries are based on a 40-hour work week, he expects them to give the taxpayers their money’s worth.

“I’m trying to change attitudes,” he has said. “That’s a long and hard process. It’s one of the hardest things you have to do. Not everyone in city government, but some government workers have a tendency to do enough just to get by rather than make the best decisions. We have to be proactive, and not just reactive.”

Time clocks

After he had observed the culture of city hall, the mayor decided that accountability was required. As a result, he has installed time clocks — based on fingerprint identification — and is also installing GPS monitoring systems on most city vehicles.

Long time observes of city government can’t help but applaud Sammarone for doing what should have been done many years ago, namely, requiring city employees to justify their existence.

If Sammarone decides not to enter the race for a full four-year term next year, the question that must be asked is this: If the mayor steps down at the end of 2013, will his successor be committed to the agenda that the incumbent believes must be pursued as Youngstown’s population declines, the number of residents who pay income tax nosedives and the current size of government becomes unsustainable?

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