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City activist spearheads petition drive to make police chief an elected position

Published: Fri, June 22, 2012 @ 12:06 a.m.


Maggy Lorenzi

By David Skolnick



Local activist Maggy Lorenzi is coordinating a citizens initiative drive to get a charter amendment on the November ballot making the job of police chief an elected position rather than appointed by the mayor.

If approved, Youngstown would be the only community in the state with an elected police chief.

Police Chief Rod Foley and Mayor Charles Sammarone oppose the idea.

Lorenzi needs 538 valid signatures on petitions — a number equal to 3 percent of city residents who voted in the last presidential election — turned in to the Mahoning County Board of Elections by Aug. 8.

Though she hasn’t asked petition circulators, about 28 of them, for a number of how many signatures they’ve collected, Lorenzi said she’s confident enough will be collected.

The proposal would make police chief an elected position with that election occurring in the same year as the mayoral race. A person could serve only two four-year terms, and the election would be nonpartisan, which allows police officers to run for the seat and not violate federal law that doesn’t permit certain civil servants to engage in partisan politics, Lorenzi said.

Eligible candidates would need to have at least five years of supervisory experience or a bachelor’s degree. Also, candidates must have lived in the city for the previous five years to be eligible to run.

Foley, who moved to Boardman in November 2009, said the proposal “isn’t good for the city or the police department. You take authority away from the mayor and the administration.”

The proposal makes the police chief accountable to city residents, Lorenzi said.

“People like the idea of taking government into their hands,” she said.

Lorenzi said she has issues with Foley as chief but declined to discuss them. She added the initiative is about making the police chief more accountable to residents and not a personal grudge.

“A lot of people are upset [with Foley] about crime,” she said.

“It’s a personal attack rather than any other reason,” Foley said. “If they’re not happy with me, air concerns to the mayor and don’t hide behind this initiative. If [Lorenzi] does not believe I’m doing a good job, she should be more vocal with the mayor.”

Sammarone said: “When there’s issues with the police, you get a better response if a person is appointed. If a person is elected, he’s not obligated to respond to anyone. The position is too important to be elected. We’ve had council members who weren’t great on accountability and there was no control because they’re elected.”

Lorenzi said she didn’t bring this up to the charter-review committee because any proposal its members make must be approved by city council.

There are no elected police chiefs in any community in Ohio, said Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the state attorney general.

State law permits charter cities, such as Youngstown, to choose how it selects its police chief, he said.


1MrRight(28 comments)posted 4 years ago

Terrible idea. Sounds like Lorenzi has sour grapes. We elected our last president anyone happy with him?

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2jfgiancola(177 comments)posted 4 years ago

“A lot of people are upset [with Foley] about crime,” she said. You can be as upset as you want. It does not matter who is cheif and how many police there are. YPD as any other police department is reactive. Crime is a societal issue and crime prevention begins at home. If you live in an environment that fosters illegal and immoral behavior then you will most likely be a criminal. All the police can do is arrest those who commit crime. Where we need to focus is on the judicial side of the equation. Punishment for crime is way to lenient and there are way to many repeat offenders in society as it is. . If a criminal is behind bars then he cannot do harm to society.

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3glbtactivist(320 comments)posted 4 years ago

Not a good idea. We need one administration, not a fight between parts of the administration like they have at the county level. If only the evil Republicans in Congress could realize that they should work with our President and not try to undermine all he does, this country would work much better.

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4Bman(151 comments)posted 4 years ago

This is going to be interesting to watch!

538 signatures will be a breeze to get....so more likely than not, the selection of the Chief will be decided in the fall! And with an Obama election coming up, it will be very interesting to see if this amendment passes.

This election may tear apart the police department in the process, but a police chief who lives in Youngstown is something that the people deserve. A suburb resident should not be the leader of Youngstown's police force. I do agree with the Mayor that, if elected, the police Chief will be virtually unaccountable to anyone but him/herself.

HUGHES for Chief in 2013!!!

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5ytowner2010(7 comments)posted 4 years ago

The qualities one needs as police chief and the temperament and skill set of politicians are two different things really. I don't think we need more politicians. If you don't like the mayor's appointment, vote out the mayor.

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6southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 4 years ago

And will this really curb crime rates? Ha ha

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7kensgirl(1057 comments)posted 4 years ago

Mayor Sammarone and Chief Foley are the best men we've had in office for a long time. What do you people want? Nobody can predict who gets shot next and where. Crime will still be alive and well in Youngstown no matter who's in charge. Let these guys do their job and you do yours. If Rod wanted to go out and sell used cars he would have done it a long time ago. Leave the poor kid alone so he could do his job.

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8Blu(4 comments)posted 4 years ago

Foley has been in the dept for years . . was so glad he became Chief. . .he knows what areas need beefed up security and he's at least trying to do something , and has plans in place , Crime is everywhere, not just in Y town...just waiting to see how his raids do and if it helps ... So far, i think he's doing the best he can do ... which is much more than others have done in previous years. imo,,, I"m waiting to see how things go...

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