RELATED: Victory is bittersweet for McNally
By DAVID SKOLNICK
While Mayor-elect John McNally IV
savored his victory Tuesday night, he said he would begin work on his new administration today.
McNally, who takes office in January, said he will spend today calling Connie Hathorn, Youngstown superintendent of schools; Bishop George Murry of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, who oversees the city’s Catholic schools; and the office of Gov. John Kasich.
Kasich said last week that he wants to help fix the city school system and to discuss ways to improve education in Youngstown.
By the end of the week, McNally, the Democratic nominee in the race, said he’ll start to ask for resumes from people interested in serving in his cabinet.
While there were six candidates vying for mayor, the results showed this was a two-man race between McNally, a former city law director and Mahoning County commissioner, and DeMaine Kitchen, chief of staff/secretary to the mayor and a former 2nd Ward councilman.
McNally, who first thought of running for mayor about a decade ago, received 54.5 percent of the vote, easily beating Kitchen, who received 43 percent of the vote.
Among the others, Claudette Moore, who said God told her to run, received one vote as a write-in.
Meanwhile, Mayor Charles Sammarone, a Democrat, easily defeated Chris Travers, an independent, and Susie Beiersdorfer, the Green Party nominee, in the race for city council president.
For McNally, it was a reversal of fortune after he beat council President Jamael Tito Brown in the Democratic primary by only 142 votes.
The close primary was a wake-up call, said McNally, who added that in the last week of that election “I lost a little energy and steam, and that happened at the wrong time.”
The strong victory Tuesday “was the result of a tremendous amount of work by a lot of people knocking on 11,000 doors, making 2,500 phone calls and making changes from the primary,” McNally said.
McNally said he went to bed the night before the election “confident” that he would win.
“I was never that nervous,” he said. “I was looking forward to it.”
Kitchen said he was proud of the race he ran.
“I don’t have any regrets about the effort,” he said. “We did everything we had to do. I have zero regrets.”
Kitchen, who’s been on voluntary unpaid leave for a month to concentrate on his mayoral campaign, will return to his chief of staff/secretary job on Monday.
The mayoral race was overshadowed at times by a sexual-harassment investigation being conducted by an investigator hired by the city into allegations from Lyndsey Hughes, the city’s downtown director of events, special projects and marketing, that Kitchen sexually harassed her on and off since January 2011.
Kitchen strongly denied the claims and questioned the timing — five weeks before the election from a McNally supporter.
Also adding some controversy to this election were allegations from some black community leaders about county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras removing two city council members and one former member from the party’s executive committee because they supported Kitchen.
On Tuesday, Betras, who said he was offended by the claims of racism leveled against him, was all smiles.
Youngstown “will now be led by a visionary mayor who is committed to building a brighter future for every resident by making neighborhoods safer, attracting new growth and development, and building upon the astonishing progress the city has made in recent years,” he said.
Also Tuesday, Sammarone, a former council president for 171⁄2 years, easily won with 66.9 percent of the vote.
Sammarone left the council president job in August 2011 to become mayor when Jay Williams resigned to join the administration of President Barack Obama.
As is his tradition, Sammarone was out of town during the final days of the campaign.
“You hear a lot of rhetoric in the final days so I usually leave before the election,” he said. “I like John and look forward to working with him. The goal is to do what’s best for the city and that’s what I’ll do with John as mayor.”