Mayor’s race a real yawner

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Independent candidates: Monday is the deadline for independent candidates to file nominating petitions for partisan positions on the November general election ballot. This should not be confused with those running for nonpartisan seats such as school board member and township trustee. The filing deadline for those seats is Aug. 7.

The Monday deadline is for those interested in partisan posts in cities and villages such as Youngstown, Struthers, Poland, Warren, Niles, Girard, Hubbard, McDonald, Lordstown, Columbiana and Salem.

Energy policies: U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, will discuss energy policies and the impact on manufacturing at a Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber Government Affairs Council luncheon from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 30 at A La Cart Catering, 429 Lisbon St. in Canfield.

Registration is required by May 23 by contacting Jennifer Mascardine by phone at 330-744-2131 extension 12, email at, or online at and then go to “upcoming events.” The cost is $25.

The Democratic primary for the Youngstown mayoral race can best be summed up in one word: quiet.

Boring is a close second.

This is the first mayoral election since 2005 without the incumbent as a candidate.

Thanks to a charter amendment, approved by city voters last year, it could be a long time before an incumbent mayor opts not to seek re-election.

The Democratic primary candidates are:

John A. McNally, a former city law director and Mahoning County commissioner, who’s raised the most money, by far, and has received most of the key endorsements, including the county Democratic Party.

Council President Jamael Tito Brown, who’s done well at candidate forums, but has struggled to raise money, generate excitement for his campaign and probably will lose.

Matthew Smith, who has raised no money and is often unable to answer even basic questions about city government.

The McNally-Brown match-up had potential, but has failed to be a compelling race.

In comparison, the Democratic primary of 2005, the last time the mayoral race didn’t have an incumbent, was interesting.

There were seven candidates — including five current officeholders, a former city council president and a guy who ended up with 73 votes — in that race.

Then-state Sen. Robert F. Hagan emerged from that primary with about 32 percent of the vote, but finished second in a six-person general election.

While the Democratic primary was a good one, the general election was even better with Jay Williams, running as an independent, emerging as the victor in a very heated and sometimes nasty race.

Williams, who won by more than 12 percentage points, was the first black elected mayor and the first independent to capture the seat in about 80 years.

That 2005 general election was so contentious that Hagan said that was a key reason he didn’t run for mayor this year despite considering it.

While this primary has failed to generate much interest, there is hope that the general election will be better.

DeMaine Kitchen, the mayor’s secretary/chief of staff, and ex-city Police Chief Jimmy Hughes are planning to run as independents. [Also, Frank Bellamy, who Williams beat by more than 76 percentage points in the 2009 Democratic primary, and John M. Crea filed as independents.]

There could be more with Monday, the day before the primary, as the deadline for independent candidates to file for the general election.

The person elected mayor in November could be there for a long time.

In the 1990s, city voters approved a limit of two consecutive four-year terms for mayor.

That resulted in lifeless mayoral campaigns in 2001, when then-Mayor George McKelvey was re-elected, and in 2009 when Williams — who resigned in 2011 to take a job in the President Barack Obama administration — won a second term.

But city residents approved a charter amendment last year to eliminate term limits for mayor. That means the winner of the November general election could be in office for a very long time.

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