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Mayor’s race has an ‘X’ factor

Published: Sun, November 3, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

If more blacks than whites vote in Tuesday’s election for mayor of Youngstown, DeMaine Kitchen, who is black, will win.

If more whites than blacks turn out for the general election, John A. McNally IV, who is white, will take over as the chief executive officer of the troubled city.

That’s the bottom line of this contentious, racially charged battle to succeed Mayor Charles Sammarone, who is running for council president.

Kitchen, former chief of staff to the mayor and former member of council, and McNally, former county commissioner and former city law director, are the acknowledged front runners, which is why they have been the focus of the campaign.

But, what if God really told Claudette Moore to run and has been managing her campaign?

And what if the Youngstown residents who hear voices in their heads — like Moore said she did when she decided to enter the race for mayor — show up at the polls on Election Day because God told them to?

Drug pushers

Or, what if all the drug pushers in the city, of which there are many, decide to round up their customers (those who are registered to vote, of course) on Tuesday in a show of support for Moore? After all, she was one of them in her younger days, selling cocaine to feed her addiction — to clothes.

She can also lay claim to the Mafia vote, seeing as how her father was a hit man for the mob.

If Moore’s candidacy doesn’t inspire the “talking heads” vote, there’s always John Crea, who should be able to count on support from residents who consider themselves crazy or who have spent time behind bars,

Crea’s recent clash with the law has landed him in the Mahoning County jail. He has been charged with three counts of aggravated menacing, to which he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He has already been convicted of aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct.

Crea’s base of support could be substantial. Having a criminal record and serving time behind bars is more common in Youngstown than one might expect.

Add to that the growing number of mentally unstable residents and the large population of homeless, and Crea has a power base that’s impressive.

Of course, a goodly number can’t vote or aren’t registered to vote, but in a six-person race, every voter matters.

In addition to McNally, Kitchen, Moore and Crea, the two other candidates are Cecil Monroe and Frank Bellamy.

So, can the two front runners also count on nontraditional support in Tuesday’s election? Possibly.

Voters who have had to deal with criminal indictments would be simpatico with McNally, whose political record contains a criminal indictment stemming from the Oakhill Renaissance Place controversy.

Criminal charges

He, along with several other current and former public officials and a prominent businessman, were taken to court with a litany of criminal charges.

But the charges were dropped just before trial began because the FBI refused to share the results of audio and visual surveillance of individuals that included at least one of the defendants in the state case.

The charges can be refiled.

Kitchen, on the other hand, could get a sympathetic vote from city residents who also dodged the tax man, or from men who have been accused of sexually harassing women in the workplace.

Thus, Tuesday’s race for mayor could come down to an X factor — X being the unknown.

Turnout, of course, will be the key. If 12,000 Youngstowners cast ballots, board of elections officials will be over the moon. After all, the Democratic primary was a bust.

But, consider this: In 1973, about 50,000 voters went to the polls in the city when Republican Jack C. Hunter was seeking re-election and was challenged by Democrat Anthony B. Flask.

Binning’s dream outcome: Dr. William C. Binning, former chairman of the county Republican Party and one-time member of the board of elections, is hoping for a too-close-to-call result Tuesday. He fondly remembers the days when ballots were sealed and kept in a bank vault because there was no clear winner. Charges of an election official walking about with a stubby pencil (supposedly to mark ballots after the polls closed) triggered investigations. He may well get his wish.

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