While Mahoning County Democratic Party precinct and executive committee members from Youngstown were divided about endorsing a mayoral candidate, when they made a decision they overwhelmingly backed John A. McNally IV.
The 66 members who attended Tuesday’s endorsement meeting at St. Luke Church in Boardman voted 33-33 on a proposal not to endorse.
But the proposal needed a two-thirds majority for the members not to endorse, said Kenneth A. Carano, a senior executive vice chairman and party parliamentarian.
After that failed, McNally, a former city law director and county commissioner, was endorsed by a 50-16 vote over council President Jamael Tito Brown. Matthew Smith, who also is running in the Democratic primary for mayor, didn’t receive a single vote.
“I’m very happy and thankful for the endorsement of the party,” McNally said. “The endorsement kicks off the campaign season, and getting the victory [Tuesday] is a good way to kick off the campaign.”
As for the vote on not endorsing, McNally said, “I think there were certain precinct committee people who would have been happy to not select either of us as they like both of us. But when it came time to vote, everyone took their vote seriously.”
Party Chairman David Betras said some didn’t want to pick, but when they had to, they “overwhelmingly supported” McNally.
Brown said he’s still a proud Democrat, so losing the endorsement is “kind of disheartening. But we’re ready to continue on. We’re not going to stop. We will move forward. We’re not giving up.”
The primary is May 7.
Before the vote, Betras said about the next Youngstown mayor: “I promise you it will be a Democrat.”
The seat is open with Charles Sammarone — appointed mayor in August 2011 after Jay Williams resigned to join President Barack Obama’s administration — opted not to seek election. Instead, Sammarone is running unopposed in the Democratic primary for his old seat as council president.
Betras had proposed significant changes to the party’s bylaws, but county precinct and executive committee members voted 108-36 against considering any of them Tuesday.
The proposals would have placed restrictions on precinct and executive committees members, the party’s executive officers, among others, on supporting candidates not endorsed by the party.
Also, convicted felons couldn’t serve as precinct committee members, and those who commit malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance also could be removed.
Precinct committee members from Struthers endorsed three of the four candidates running for three council at-large seats.
Endorsed were Joseph N. Rudzik, Ronald Mathews and Mike S. Patrick. Patrick had to go to a second vote to beat Milton Gonzalez 7-4 after they both received six votes in the first round of voting.
The party also voted 100-46 in support of a proposed gay-marriage issue seeking to get on the November ballot.