Youngstown mayoral candidate takes aim at McNally's criminal record


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Jamael Tito Brown, who narrowly lost the Democratic primary for Youngstown mayor four years ago, is running for the seat again – focusing his campaign on the criminal convictions of the incumbent.

Brown, a former Youngs-town council president, said he will seek the Democratic nomination in the May 2 primary.

It will set up a rematch with Mayor John A. McNally, who beat him in the 2013 primary by 142 votes.

In an interview with The Vindicator and during an announcement of his candidacy, both Thursday, Brown sharply criticized McNally.

“We need leadership in the city that leads with integrity and honesty,” Brown said Thursday.

He pointed to McNally, the incumbent mayor who’s already filed for a second four-year term, pleading guilty in February 2016 to four misdemeanors: two counts of falsification, and one count each of unlawful use of a telecommunications device and attempted disclosure of confidential information.

McNally was given a year’s probation after being accused of being part of a criminal enterprise that conspired to illegally stop or impede the relocation of the county’s Job and Family Services Department from a building owned by a subsidiary of the Cafaro Co. to Oakhill Renaissance Place, which the county purchased in 2007.

“We’ve never had a mayor who’s pleaded guilty to being part of a criminal enterprise,” Brown said. “That should disqualify him [from holding or running for office]. It doesn’t, so the voters will have their say. I’m giving voters an alternative.”

The convictions relate to McNally, who was a county commissioner at the time of the Oakhill sale, illegally faxing the county’s confidential offer to buy Oakhill to attorneys who represented Anthony Cafaro Sr., the former president of his family-owned Cafaro Co. shopping-center business.

“We need honest government,” Brown said. “I’m running for the mayor of the city because Youngstown deserves better.”

If elected, Brown said he’d “restore honesty, trust and integrity in city hall.” The area “can no longer be the poster child of corruption,” and needs to focus more on job creation and training of its residents as well as investing in neighborhoods, he added.

McNally has said he expects his opponents to go after him on his criminal convictions but that voters are more interested in the accomplishments of his administration during his first term as mayor.

Wednesday is the filing deadline.

Meanwhile, Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, will file nominating petitions today for the vacant council president position. Former Council President John R. Swierz has already turned in petitions for the Democratic primary. The seat is being vacated by Charles Sammarone, a Democrat, who is choosing not to seek re-election this year.

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