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5 to vie for open council president position


By David Skolnick

Thursday, February 2, 2017

By David Skolnick


Five candidates – including one current and two former officeholders – are running in the Democratic primary for the open Youngstown council president position.

Those filing by Wednesday’s deadline to seek the spot in the May 2 primary are:

Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, who’s served since December 2011 and cannot seek another term when his current one expires in 2019.

John R. Swierz, a former council president and 7th Ward councilman.

DeMaine Kitchen, a former 2nd Ward councilman and ex-chief of staff to the mayor. Kitchen unsuccessfully ran in the November 2013 election as an independent candidate for mayor, and resigned as chief of staff in December 2013, four days before the release of a report from an investigation concluded he sexually harassed a city employee.

Cynthia L. McWilson, who’s unsuccessfully run three times for 5th Ward council and once for state representative.

Young Tensley, a political newcomer who is an associate pastor at Mount Gilead Baptist Church on the South Side.

The seat is open because Charles Sammarone, the current council president, is retiring rather than running for another term.

Also, Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally will face two challengers in the Democratic primary in his effort to serve a second four-year term.

One is a familiar name – former Council President Jamael Tito Brown, who lost the 2013 Democratic primary to McNally by 142 votes.

The other is not – political newcomer Teresa A. Johnson, a member of the Crandall Park South Neighborhood Association.

Johnson said she was inspired to run after campaigning for Hillary Clinton, the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate.

Johnson grew up in Youngstown, moved away in 1981 and returned in 2013.

She acknowledged running for mayor is “a big challenge,” and she respects McNally.

“Just because you respect someone doesn’t mean you put your dreams aside,” she said.

In the Youngstown Municipal Court judicial race, Magistrate Anthony Sertick will face Carla Baldwin, a Mahoning County Juvenile Court magistrate, in the Democratic primary.

Judge Robert Milich cannot run for re-election because of the state’s age limit on judges.

Clerk of Courts Sarah Brown-Clark, a Democrat, is the only Youngstown candidate without opposition so far.

No Republicans filed to run for elected office in Youngstown.

May 1, the day before the primary, is the deadline for independent candidates to file for office.

Like Judge Milich in Youngstown, Struthers Municipal Court Judge James R. Lanzo has to retire this year because of the state’s age restriction on judges.

Seeking to succeed him in the Democratic primary is his son James E. Lanzo, city Law Director Dominic R. Leone III, and Jamie Dunn, who’s served as the court’s visiting judge.

Also, Damian P. DeGenova, the court’s magistrate, is running unopposed as a Republican for the judicial seat.