By David Skolnick
Though John A. McNally IV beat Jamael Tito Brown citywide in the Democratic primary for Youngstown mayor by only 2.29 percentage points, the race between the two in the city’s seven wards wasn’t competitive.
Also, overall turnout for the primary election in the city was only 15.7 percent, and 16.9 percent in Mahoning County.
But when it comes to the Democratic mayoral primary, the city percentage is deceptive. That’s because a failed citywide charter amendment on Tuesday’s ballot meant all 44,278 registered voters in Youngstown were eligible to cast ballots for that issue.
When counting only registered Democrats in the city — the only ones permitted to vote in that party’s primary for Youngstown mayor — turnout was 64.1 percent, with a high of 81.8 percent in the city’s 3rd Ward.
This Democratic primary’s turnout in Youngstown is a little less than in 2005, the last mayoral primary without a sitting incumbent, and considerably more than in 2009 when then-Mayor Jay Williams easily won re-election.
Using raw numbers of votes in the city’s 77 precincts, provided by the county board of elections, an analysis by The Vindicator shows that though there were small changes in certain voting patterns, areas with a concentration of white people voted strongly in favor of McNally, who is white, and the same for black concentrated areas supporting Brown, who is black. This has been a longstanding pattern in Youngstown, among other cities.
Brown, city council president, easily beat McNally, a former county commissioner and city law director, in the four predominately black wards — the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th.
McNally had solid victories in the predominately white 4th and 7th wards and won by 21.1 percentage points in the 5th Ward, which has a growing black population but is still largely inhabited by whites. Those three wards also have the most residents and registered voters in the city.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” McNally said. “I’m not sure if we’ve gotten over the black candidates and the white candidates. When we face the numbers and the realities, it’s still there. I’m not going out on a limb to suggest that. It’s not every single person. But you’ve got to be realistic about it.”
Brown said certain results made him think race is not playing as significant a factor as it has with Youngstown voters just a few years ago.
Brown won two of the 13 precincts in the 7th Ward, a largely white area on the city’s southeast side, and McNally won three of the 10 precincts in the 6th Ward, a heavily concentrated black area on the South Side.
“It’s not just a black-and-white issue,” Brown said. “There are changing demographics. It’s not the same as it used to be. People are looking at the quality and experience of the candidates.”
Citywide, McNally received 50.4 percent of the vote to 48.1 percent for Brown. Matthew Smith got 1.5 percent in the Democratic mayoral primary.
But it wasn’t competitive in any of the wards.
In the largely black 1st Ward, which includes all of downtown and portions of the East and South sides, Brown received 70.9 percent of the vote compared with 26.7 percent for McNally. McNally won one of the ward’s seven precincts, 1E, the Crab Creek area, 27-17. Brown won the rest.
Of 795 registered Democrats in the ward, 516 voted, making turnout 64.9 percent.
In the predominately black 2nd Ward, which includes most of the East Side, Brown captured 77.4 percent of the vote and all 10 precincts, while McNally picked up 21.1 percent of the vote. This was Brown’s strongest ward, with huge victories in precincts by vote totals of 96-30, 109-22, and 107-23.
Of the 1,274 registered Democrats in the ward, 818 voted resulting in a 64.2 percent turnout.
In the largely black 3rd Ward, which takes in most of the North Side and the area Brown represented while a city councilman, he won all 10 precincts, and 68.9 percent of the vote. McNally received 29.9 percent.
Turnout for the mayoral primary was the highest of any ward in the 3rd — 81.8 percent with 1,120 of the 1,370 registered Democrats voting.
In the predominately white 4th Ward, the city’s upper West Side, McNally won all 13 precincts and 81.1 percent of the vote — his most successful ward in the primary. It also was the only ward in which a candidate received more than 1,000 votes; McNally received 1,024 to 211 for Brown, who picked up only 16.7 percent of the 4th Ward’s vote. McNally had convincing wins in precincts such as 171-34, 123-15 and 122-27.
Of the 2,075 registered Democrats in the 4th, 1,263 voted, a 60.9 percent turnout.
The 5th Ward went to McNally with 59.9 percent of the vote. Brown received 38.8 percent of the vote. The ward has 14 precincts, seven on the West Side that are predominately white — which McNally won — and seven on the South Side that are predominately black — which Brown won. Mill Creek MetroParks divides the ward, which has a growing black population, but still has a white majority.
The 5th had 2,075 voters in the primary, the most of any ward in the primary.
In the predominately black 6th Ward on the South Side, Brown won with 63.7 percent to 35.5 percent for McNally. In somewhat of a surprise, McNally won three of the ward’s 10 precincts, including its two most southern wards and its most northern ward.
Of the 810 registered Democrats in the ward, 496 voted for 61.2 percent turnout.
In the 7th Ward, a largely white ward on the city’s southeast side, McNally received 66.9 percent of the vote to 32.3 percent for Brown. McNally won 11 of the ward’s 13 precincts.
The 7th had the lowest Democratic voter turnout of the wards at 57.2 percent. Of 1,473 registered Democrats there, 842 voted.