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Mayor’s race gets clarified

Published: Fri, January 11, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

On the side

Washington lobbyist: Steven C. LaTourette, the recently retired Republican congressman from Ohio’s 14th District, is now a D.C. lobbyist.

LaTourette of Bainbridge, who didn’t seek re-election this year after 18 years in the U.S. House, will head a new government relations and lobbying subsidiary of the law firm of McDonald Hopkins LLC, a business advisory and advocacy law firm with six offices nationwide, including one in Cleveland.

“I firmly believe in the moderate and constructive values that I represented in Congress and intend to continue representing those values on behalf of clients whose interests are impacted by the actions of our government,” LaTourette said.

LaTourette will be the president and based in Washington, D.C.

The vice president is Jennifer LaTourette, his wife, who’s spent the past decade as vice president of Van Scoyoc Associates, a government lobbying firm, and was LaTourette’s chief of staff before they were married.

Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone’s decision to not run for the job this year brings that election into focus.

There will be two leading candidates in the Democratic primary in May: John McNally IV, a former Mahoning County commissioner and Youngstown law director, and Council President Jamael Tito Brown.

Matthew Smith, who unsuccessfully ran for elected office in city government more than 25 years ago, has filed to run for mayor, but isn’t viewed as a strong candidate for the Democratic primary.

While the primary isn’t for another four months, Brown has somewhat stumbled out of the gate.

Brown seemed shell-shocked when I reported Dec. 18 that Sammarone was “reconsidering” his decision to run for mayor after about one-and-a-half years of saying he was “99-percent” sure he wouldn’t seek the elected position.

Brown had a Dec. 13 press conference announcing his plans to run for mayor, but it won’t be until next week — a month after his announcement — that he’ll file nominating petitions for the seat.

Brown wants to make sure he’s got enough valid signatures and is filing well before the Feb. 6 deadline. But it shows a bit of a breakdown in his campaign’s organizational skills.

On top of that, DeMaine Kitchen, Sammarone’s secretary/chief of staff and a longtime Brown friend and political ally, says he’s giving serious consideration to an independent mayoral run. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement for Brown.

“It’s a good strategic move” to run as an independent, Brown said of Kitchen.

Kitchen’s wife is Brown’s wife’s niece.

“My goal is to come out as the [Democratic] primary winner,” Brown said. “If I win and he stays in, that’s fine. There would be no animosity. But I would hope if Tito Brown won the primary [Kitchen would] consider stepping down and joining my team.”

Sammarone said he will run in the May primary for the Democratic nomination for council president.

He’s held that position for more than 17 years, including 51/2 straight years before the August 2011 resignation of Mayor Jay Williams elevated Sammarone to the top spot in compliance with the city charter’s ascension provision.

Sammarone said he wants to return to council president for a variety of reasons.

One is it’s easier to manage his time as council president, meaning it’s not a 24-7 job like mayor. In the job, Sammarone has advised mayors, but ultimately, the guy running the city makes the final decisions.

In reality, the position is largely ceremonial under the city charter with the main responsibility being to run council meetings. That’s pretty good for a job that pays $28,117 in annual salary with the option of full medical benefits.

Some — among the most vocal being Phil Kidd, a community activist mulling a mayoral run — contend the council president should be a more active participant in representing the city and be active in community engagement.

The charter review commission, of which Kidd was a member, recommended the position be eliminated, because there’s not much to it.

City council, which decides what charter amendments make it to the public ballot, quickly rejected that proposal. Council president should have more responsibilities or be eliminated. But I don’t see that happening.


1PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I do. If we're going to keep the position, I think the individual who occupies the position should engage the city as a whole much like an at-large representative would in any other city.

The individual should help with organizing neighborhoods, attend evening neighborhood and community meetings, assist with city-wide projects and be an engaged legislator/voice for the city.

Just because you don't have a vote doesn't mean you can't be effective. In fact, I think it's unfortunate that so little has been done in the past with this position that the notion of being more active merits media commentary. That speaks for itself.

So if we're keeping this position, let this be the standard.

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2peggygurney(408 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Phil Kidd for mayor! It's time to throw your hat in the ring Phil!

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3Westsider(269 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Council president aside, there is no way this city still needs seven councilmembers - the population has dropped dramatically over the past decades. There should be one for each side of town and one at-large. It's probably still too many but it would be a start.

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4wow_show(9 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

How quickly this turned into a "phil kidd for mayor" comment fest.

I think if Phil got into office he would realize it is much different than what it appears to be on the surface.

They all have agendas, it is just a matter of picking the one that has at least part of their agenda to actually focus on the people and improve the city.

Jay Williams had an agenda and his strategy has got him into the administration. Don't doubt that Kidd has a personal agenda also, alongside his Defend Youngstown Crusade.

Don't put people, especially candidates for office, on such a high pedastal.

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5PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

@wow_show: I agree. Individuals should not be placed on pedestals...especially in a city as challenged as this one. One would hope that's a lesson that we have learned by now. I couldn't do it alone. Community building is a team effort. But you need leaders and partners who are willing to work to build a community...both inside and outside of City Hall. Fact.

That being said, I'm curious as to what you feel my 'agenda' would be 'alongside my Defend Youngstown' crusade. I'd really like to know. I'm an open and honest person (perhaps to a fault, at times). So I'm asking you this open and honest question given the suggestion.

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6ILoveYTown(4 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I have known Phil Kidd for many years now and he has always been an honest, humble, hard working man. He excels in listening, investigating, organizing and energizing those that share the same goals, primarily improving the quality of life in the city.

To wow_show.... Is it so hard to believe that there are people like him that exist? This city has improved thanks to Phil Kidd and others that believe in the same goals. It is those that have seen what he could do that are encouraging him to run for Mayor. If you know Phil, you know his "agenda" would be to put all of his knowledge and energy into making this city a great place to work and live.

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7ytownredux(117 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I don't understand how this turned into a Phil article either, but I will add my 2 cents I guess. I also think Phil is a good man with good intentions, however he is not without concerns. While I don't think anyone should stagnate in one position, I am a little uneasy about Phil's changing jobs often. As I am not usually the cynical type, and again, knowing that Phil is an overall good person, I will give the benifit of the doubt that he has just been trying to learn a lot about the City. That being said, he has gone from Judge magistrate or assistant, to Youngstown downtown events coordinator, to MVOC, to the Regional Development to his current business that I believe I saw when it first opened, that it was done with a rent free grant from the City, all under 10 years.

If I was the cynical type, I would wonder why he could not stay in any of these positions for a protracted length of time, if they are all good for the City. Much how I dislike Josh Mandel for his, "never stay at a job until it's completion," I would think that any of those previous jobs would provide long term help and support to the City he loves. I appreciate Phi's service to his country, I appreciate his service to the City, but I am not sure if he is ready to handle the running of the City without some experience on council.

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8PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Vindy response: @ytownredux:

2004-2009: After my time in the military, my first job was with the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas. I was an 'Assignment Officer' which, essentially, is a someone who does scheduling for the judges/magistrates and helps with general administrative court work. I held this job for 3.5 years. While not a challenging job nor one that utilized my education or military experience, it was a good initial job because it provided steady income and set hours which allowed me to attend graduate school at night at YSU (and pay my tuition as I went). I had intended on going to law school. But...

2008-2009: I was hired as the downtown director of events in 2008 by City Council. It paid considerably more and I feel I offered some new ideas on how to generate more attraction to the downtown area. This same year, a new non-profit in the city had formed which was largely funded by the Raymond J. Wean Foundation (who was inspired by the Youngstown 2010 process). I volunteered with this group on my spare time and was extremely impressed with their work. Having worked inside City Hall, I deeply believed that community organizing was needed in Youngstown. In 2009, they offered me a position as a neighborhood organizer (matching my city salary).

2009-Present: I worked for MVOC for 3.5 years as a neighborhood organizer as well as the lead organizer of the vacant property campaign in Youngstown (and still work for the organization on a limited basis). I loved this job and this work. I left for a two reasons: 1. the organization's focus was heading in a somewhat different direction (not as much neighborhood-based, local issue-based work/ more bigger issue, state-wide, social justice-based work) and 2. a storefront in the building in which I live in became available. I had wanted (for several years) to open a gift shop and information center in the city due to the success of my Defend Youngstown blog. The timing was excellent. I took my savings and opened the store in July. And it's been great.

I have absolutely no idea what the 'Regional Development' job you speak of might be nor what you are referring to with the 'rent free grant from the city' comment. I live and work in the Federal Building (privately owned by Dominic Gatta) and pay rent like anyone else for both spaces.

So, there you have it. The facts. I hope this brings some clarity to your concerns. Thanks for your other positive comments. I appreciate them.

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9wow_show(9 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Utica only has faith in a new-comer like Kidd with the perspective of "who can the industry manipulate more?" and a newcomer is a roll of the dice in this respect. Can be easily swayed OR will be difficult to work with, but I think it is more likely Kidd would be easily swayed by good sounding ideas as he would feel the need to quickly prove himself in office.

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10Woody(492 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Electing someone with no real record or experience is working wonders for our federal government.

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11isaac45(411 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

@wow-show clearly the former is a concern considering the behavior exhibited toward kidd by utica shale for quite a while...it's exactly what republicans count on, and have received, often from obama...not getting it as much anymore since the election and are becoming even more delirious...phil, you've commented here...why exactly is a man who has reviled you now speaking positively about you?..what is your opinion on that?...that could legitimately sway my vote...try to judge the man but who supports him does say a lot..having said that, everybody else here who supports you seems straight-forward..look forward to hearing your response and ignoring the insults to come from mr. shale

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12PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Isaac45: Honestly, I have no idea. UticaShale is Ron Eiselstein. He's been pretty nasty to me (and my colleagues) over the years but I've never acknowledged it nor engaged in response because I didn't feel it warranted one for obvious reasons.

However, recently he has attempted to be more civil and constructive...even being an advocate for me to consider running for office. Given his past comments, I have no idea why. However, he even stopped into my store the other day to introduce me to a Pastor on the North Side. He was looking for assistance with a cemetery project on the East Side and I referred him to Glenda House over at the Northeast Homeowners Association.

So, I don't know why the change of heart. That's about the extent of what I know. Regardless, I'm just going to keep doing my thing. Hope this is helpful.

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