With about six weeks before Election Day, DeMaine Kitchen, an independent candidate for mayor, is taking a leave of absence from his job as the mayor’s chief of staff/ secretary to concentrate on his campaign.
Kitchen’s leave starts Monday and runs to Nov. 11, six days after the general election.
“I need to take the time to focus on the election and the demands of the campaign,” he said. “I’m committed to this race, so the leave is necessary.”
Kitchen, who earns $74,187 annually in his position, said he is using a week of vacation time and will take the rest of his leave without pay.
“I don’t want anyone to accuse me of campaigning on the job,” he said.
Kitchen said he’s made obligations to attend certain meetings and functions “as it pertains to my job,” and will honor them on an “unpaid, voluntary basis.”
Mayor Charles Sammarone said Kitchen approached him about the leave.
“It’s a good move because the campaign becomes time-consuming in the final six weeks,” Sammarone said. “I told him, ‘It’s smart on your part.’ I don’t want anyone campaigning on city time.”
The mayor said he hasn’t received any complaints about Kitchen doing that.
Sammarone, a Democrat, is running for council president, his previously-elected position that he left in August 2011 when then-Mayor Jay Williams resigned to take a job in the President Barack Obama administration. The city charter calls for council president to be mayor if the position is vacated.
One of Sammarone’s first moves as mayor was to hire Kitchen, then-2nd Ward councilman, to serve as his chief of staff/secretary.
Kitchen has experienced financial problems and delinquent tax issues, including a 2007 foreclosure on his house as well as failing to pay taxes he owed to the state, Mahoning County and the city. Just last week, Kitchen paid $2,394.08 in delinquent property taxes and interest to the county.
When asked how he will support himself and his family without income from his city post, Kitchens said, “Taxes are paid. My wife works. We’ll be OK.”
Also running for the open mayoral seat are Democrat John McNally IV, independents John M. Crea and Frank Bellamy, and write-in candidates Cecil Monroe and Claudette Moore.