2 mayoral candidates outline top issues
By David Skolnick
Two mayoral candidates — Democrat John A. McNally IV and DeMaine Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/secretary who is running as an independent — outlined their priorities if they win the Nov. 5 election.
Both had similar goals they discussed at separate press conferences Wednesday at their respective campaign headquarters.
McNally, a former Youngs-town law director and Mahoning County commissioner, said his priorities are to increase safety and economic opportunities and have his administration collaborate with various businesses, agencies, institutions and schools.
The work won’t be easy, but it’s vital to the survival of the city, McNally said at his campaign headquarters at 4011 Hillman Way, which is the county Democratic Party’s headquarters and located in Boardman, a short distance from Youngstown’s South Side.
Kitchen, an independent candidate, said his three key issues are reducing crime, increasing job opportunities and improving education.
“Nothing else matters,” he said at his campaign headquarters at 16 Wick Ave. in the city’s downtown.
Other candidates in the mayoral race are independents John M. Crea and Frank Bellamy, and write-ins Cecil Monroe and Claudette Moore.
Regarding reducing crime, Kitchen said people talk about it, but “no one says, ‘how.’” He then talked about the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence program that he helped create and that the police department has gone from being “reactive” to using information it gathers to address criminal activity before it starts.
Kitchen also proposed using the city-owned Covelli Centre and closed school buildings for neighborhood and block-watch meetings, expanding curfew sweeps, and working to consolidate emergency 911 services between the city and county. The latter has been discussed without results for more than a decade.
Kitchen’s economic plan includes using several of the financial-incentive programs the city already provides to companies as well as expanding the geographic boundaries of the central business district to include Mahoning Avenue and Albert Street, and working with employers and post-secondary educational institutions on workforce training advancements.
On education, Kitchen wants to create a mayor’s commission to interact more with the city school district, have the city offer grants to open after-school programs for tutoring and recreation, and have 50 businesses “adopt” city high school students to provide money, employment and monitor educational progress.
McNally also said the involvement of the mayor in the city school system, something that hasn’t been done in at least a couple of decades, is needed for its survival.
“The mayor has to demand a seat at the table with the Youngstown City School District because the viability and future of the school district is” at risk, he said.
“I fully expect in the next few years that the Department of Education and the governor’s office will be more intimately involved in the school district, and will continue to have a target on the back of the Youngstown City School District.”
He also wants to bring the city’s planning, economic development and community development agency to city hall and review city-owned properties for potential sale.