What’s in store for mayor?

On the side

Will sparks fly?: Mahoning County Board of Elections meetings are about to get interesting starting next month when county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras becomes a member.

During the 11-plus years I’ve attended elections board meetings, the two Democrats and the two Republicans on the board have agreed about 99 percent of the time. With Betras joining the board and county Republican Chairman Mark Munroe likely to be appointed chairman, the potential is there for some sparks to fly.

Candidates forums: The Core Team Ministry of the Union Baptist Church is hosting a forum for candidates running for Mahoning County elected positions from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 27 at the church at 528 Lincoln Ave. in Youngstown.

Also, the Columbiana/Mahoning County Patriots organization is holding a candidates forum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Living Faith Church meeting room at 166 Vine St. in Salem. Those running for the U.S. Senate, the 6th and 13th Congressional Districts, and the 59th Ohio House District seats are invited to speak.

Since taking over as Youngstown mayor last August, Charles Sammarone has been anything but a caretaker.

Sammarone has made significant changes as to how city government operates, insisting that its employees be more accountable.

Sammarone didn’t run for mayor. He got the job because the city charter calls for council president to automatically succeed the mayor if the latter resigns.

That’s what happened last August when Jay Williams, mayor since January 2006, resigned to join President Barack Obama’s administration. At the time, Sammarone was council president.

Sammarone said he’s enjoyed his time as mayor though the evening responsibilities that come with the job can be a bit too much.

Sammarone says numerous people have told him he should run for mayor when the seat is up for election next year.

Despite the positive reception he’s received, Sammarone isn’t budging from what he said before becoming mayor and repeated while in office. He is 99 percent sure he won’t run for mayor.

“If I was younger, I’d consider it,” said Sammarone, 69.

There’s still that 1 percent, but those aren’t good odds.

At a Monday charter review committee meeting, Sammarone suggested significant changes to the charter, particularly when it comes to holding elected office.

Sammarone proposed eliminating term limits for mayor and city council positions and have them run every two years instead of the current four years.

Council members and the mayor can be elected to no more than two consecutive four-year terms.


Sammarone said his reasons for the changes are to make officeholders more accountable. There have been several times, he said, that council members “float for three years and work hard during the fourth to get re-elected.”

It’s even worse for those serving their second term, he said.

A two-year mayoral term might be better suited for Sammarone. But he said the recommended changes have nothing to do with his political future.

Charter-review committee members asked about the need for a council president.

Sammarone served as council president for 171/2 years, including time before voters approved the two-term limit in 2003.

Sammarone said the position shouldn’t be eliminated, and should continue to be selected by voters and not by members of council.

While giving himself a 1 percent change of running next year for mayor, Sammarone said the odds are very high that he’d run for council president in 2013.

Sammarone said there’s a 90 percent chance he’ll run for council president next year.

Crowded race

The 2013 field for Youngstown mayor is likely to be a crowded one, particularly if Sammarone opts to not seek the job.

As for council president, if Sammarone decides to run for the position, he should have little trouble winning the seat. Should that happen, it will be interesting to see the interaction between a new mayor and the more-experienced Sammarone serving as council president.

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