Mayoral candidates John McNally IV and Jamael Tito Brown said they are very interested in receiving the support of Charles Sammarone, the incumbent who isn’t running for the seat.
Sammarone’s decision, reported in Tuesday’s Vindicator, “changes the dynamics of the race,” said Brown, city-council president. “I expect it will help me. I also hope he’ll support me.”
“I don’t know if it makes my candidacy easier, but it brings clarity to the race,” said McNally, a former Mahoning County commissioner and Youngstown law director. “People were asking questions about his candidacy. I wouldn’t say my campaign was in a holding pattern, but knowing people’s intentions makes it easier” to move ahead.
Sammarone, mayor since his Aug. 1, 2011, appointment, said Monday that he wouldn’t run for mayor, primarily because of the time commitment needed to do the job correctly.
Instead, Sammarone, a Democrat, said he plans to run for council president, a seat he held for more than 17 years, including 51/2 straight years before his ascension to mayor.
Under city-charter rules, council president becomes the mayor and fills out the remainder of the term if the latter resigns. Jay Williams resigned Aug. 1, 2011, to join President Barack Obama’s administration.
McNally and Matthew Smith, who unsuccessfully ran for elected office in Youngstown more than 25 years ago, are the only mayoral candidates to date to file for the Democratic primary. Brown said he’s definitely running and will file no later than Tuesday.
McNally and Brown said they support Sammarone for council president, and, if elected as mayor, both said they look forward to working with him.
Sammarone said he likes McNally and Brown, but will hold off on an endorsement until he hears their campaign platforms. It’s possible, he said, that he’d support “more than one candidate” for mayor.
Feb. 6 is the deadline to file for the Democratic primary, which is May 7.
No other Democrats have announced plans to run in the primary for mayor.
Brown said he finds it “hard to believe that someone else” with political experience won’t file for the Democratic primary, but hasn’t heard any names.
McNally said, “I don’t know who else would get in the race at this point.”
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras said he hasn’t heard of anyone else with political experience filing for the primary.
“There may be peripheral candidates, but you need the campaign and financial skills to run,” he said. “I don’t see anyone besides John McNally and Tito Brown with those skills. With [Sammarone] out of the race, it changes the dynamics because he would be the leading candidate.”
State Rep. Robert F. Hagan also said Monday that he won’t run for mayor.
DeMaine Kitchen, Sammarone’s secretary/chief of staff and a former 2nd Ward councilman, said he’s seriously considering an independent mayoral run.