Ex-Youngstown police chief running for mayor

By David Skolnick and Ed Runyan

By David Skolnick and Ed Runyan



Retired Police Chief Jimmy Hughes, who lost the Democratic primary for Mahoning County sheriff last year, has filed to run for Youngstown mayor.

Hughes, who retired in 2011, said he “wrestled” with running as an independent or as a Democrat.

A few minutes before 4 p.m. Wednesday, the filing deadline for the primary, Hughes stood at the counter of the Mahoning County Board of Elections weighing both options before deciding to run as a Democrat.

The elections board will certify candidates for the May 7 primary ballot at a Monday meeting.

Hughes joined three others vying for the Democratic nomination to be mayor of the heavily Democratic city. The others are John McNally IV, a former county commissioner and city law director; Council President Jamael Tito Brown; and Matthew Smith, who unsuccessfully ran for elected city office in the 1980s.

Hughes complained during the primary, which he lost by 30.89 percentage points, and again Wednesday that he didn’t get “a fair shake” from the party.

“But in the end, I’m a Democrat, and I place my marbles in that basket,” he said.

Hughes said he has “a vision” that would reduce crime in the city and increase the number of police officers with only a minimal cost.

The mayoral seat is open because Charles Sammarone, appointed to the job in August 2011 when then-mayor Jay Williams left for a position in the Obama administration, isn’t running for the spot.

Instead, Sammarone is the lone Democratic candidate for council president, his former position.

The Green Party has two candidates — Terrance P. Esarco and Susie Beiersdorfer, local activists — running in its primary for council president. The two say they hope to increase the number of registered Greens in Youngstown through a competitive primary.


Both are also members of Frack Free Mahoning Valley, an organization that sought to submit petitions with 3,792 signatures to Valencia Marrow, Youngstown clerk of council, on Wednesday.

The petitions seek to place a charter amendment on the May 7 ballot asking voters to ban fracking in the city. The group needs 1,562 valid signatures to get the measure on the primary ballot, according to city Law Director Anthony Farris.

But a dispute over how the city would accept the petitions resulted in the group of about 15 to 20 Frack Free members not submitting the documents Wednesday.

“Our lawyer [James Callen] asked us to get a receipt, and the city wouldn’t do that so we were advised not to leave the originals with the city,” said Beiersdorfer. “It was a miscommunication that will be OK.”

The procedure to get a charter amendment on the ballot, Farris said, is for a group to submit petitions, allow city officials to do a preliminary review of the language, have council approve it and then forward it to the county board of elections.

“They wanted the clerk to sign documents suggesting she had reviewed them when she hadn’t,” he said. “Assuming they give us the time to review, it will go to the board of elections in time to get on the primary ballot.”

Charter-amendment proposals from residents have to be at the county elections board between 60 and 120 days before the election. Wednesday was 90 days before the primary so there are 30 more days to get this matter resolved, Farris said.


Meanwhile, in Warren, former United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Jim Graham has filed petitions to run for Warren council president against incumbent Bob Dean.

Graham lost to Doug Franklin in the 2011 Democratic primary election for Warren mayor, Graham’s first attempt at political office.

Graham, who retired last summer from the General Motors facility in Lordstown, says he’s running for council president “to help our city.”

“The more resources you can get, the more you can help your city,” he said.

When asked about the challenge from Jim Graham, Dean said, “I was a Little Leaguer growing up, and I always thought it was your job to do everything you can to help the team win, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

No Republicans filed to run for any seat in Mahoning or Trumbull counties in the primary.

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