McNally, Brown will lock horns in Vindicator forum on Monday

On the side

The Mahoning County Democratic Party will honor four women during its Hall of Fame Dinner at 5 p.m. April 22 at the Mt. Carmel Banquet Center, 343 Via Mt. Carmel in Youngstown.

Those being honored are Sarah Brown-Clark, Youngstown Municipal Court clerk; Joyce Kale-Pesta, Mahoning County Board of Elections director and state central committeewoman; Judge Cheryl Waite of the 7th District Court of Appeals; and Bev Reyes, a longtime party leader and activist. Tickets are $50 each and available online at

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, recently introduced legislation with Republican Evan Jenkins of West Virginia in the House to improve prescription drug monitoring programs and reduce opioid abuse. It’s a companion bill to one introduced in the Senate by Republican Rob Portman of the Cincinnati area and Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. The bill, if approved, would improve state monitoring programs’ effectiveness for opioid prescriptions through a centralized database, Ryan said.

There are a number of interesting local races in the May 2 primary and it will feature a first for The Vindicator.

Normally during the primary and the general elections, the editorial board and a reporter meet with candidates running in key races individually to ask questions. Endorsements and articles coming from those discussions. In some higher-profile races, we bring a videographer into the meetings and a few days later we post highlights of those interviews on

Over the past few weeks, we brought in candidates for a number of primary races. But we are doing something different with the Youngstown Democratic mayoral candidates this year.

On Monday, we’re airing the full editorial board meeting for the public to see for the first time and doing it live.

Also, we’re also having both candidates – incumbent Mayor John A. McNally and his challenger, Jamael Tito Brown – meet together with the editorial board to ask them questions in what we expect to be a spirited and compelling discussion of the important issues facing Youngstown.

You can watch it live starting at 11 a.m. Monday on and on The Vindicator’s Facebook page.

We’ll also be live tweeting highlights from the discussion.

While it is considered a debate, it is first and foremost an editorial board meeting.

That means McNally, for example, won’t get one minute to respond to a question and then Brown will get one minute for a rebuttal and then back to McNally for 30 seconds.

The panel – Bertram de Souza, editorial page editor; Rick Logan, editorial writer; and myself, the newspaper’s politics writer – will ask questions of the candidates. We may interrupt if the response merits it and we will encourage the free flow of discussion.

While other reporters and I participate in editorial board meetings, we don’t have any say in who the newspaper endorses.

This is only the second time in my nearly 17 years as the newspaper’s politics writer that we’re having both candidates for an elected position in the same room for an editorial board meeting. The only other time was in 2001 for a Youngstown Municipal Court judicial race.

So this is an exciting opportunity for both us and our readers/viewers to gain unique insights into the candidacies of McNally and Brown. When the two last ran against each other in the 2013 Democratic primary for what was then an open seat, McNally won by only 142 votes.

Meanwhile, starting Sunday, you can read The Vindicator and for articles profiling the major races and issues on the May 2 ballot.

That includes Democratic primaries for Youngstown mayor and city council president as well as municipal court in Youngstown, Struthers and Niles as well as Warren treasurer and auditor, and school tax issues in Poland and Hubbard.

It’s the comprehensive coverage of the key races and issues we’ve always provided.

Next week will be a busy one for political coverage as the pre-primary election campaign finance reports for local candidates are due at county boards of elections by Thursday.

We’ll be paying particularly close attention to the Youngstown mayoral candidates in what is expected to be the most expensive primary in the Mahoning Valley.

The May 2 primary will be here before we know it. Also, the filing deadline for those wanting to run as independent candidates in partisan races – not to be confused with nonpartisan races such as township trustee or board of education members – is May 1, the day before the primary.

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