Thursday, May 4, 2017
Come January, Youngs-town will have a black mayor – the second in the city’s history. Jay Williams was the first. Why bring up race? Because that was the subtext of Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
White voters in Youngstown, by and large, cast their ballots for the white candidate, Mayor John A. McNally, who was seeking a second four-year term.
Black voters, by and large, supported the black candidate, Jamael Tito Brown, a former city council and Youngstown Board of Education member.
But it wasn’t just in the mayor’s race the racial divide was evident.
In the Democratic primary for Youngstown Municipal Court Judge, Carla Baldwin, who has served as magistrate in the Mahoning County Juvenile Court since January, defeated Anthony Sertick, who has spent the past 16 years as the magistrate in the municipal court.
In the battle for Youngs-town City Council president, DeMaine Kitchen, a former council member and chief of staff for former Mayor Charles Sammarone, captured the party nomination over Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, and two others.
So, what does this all mean for Youngstown’s future? Maybe nothing, or maybe a lot. It mostly depends on how the political class conducts itself.
In the general election, Brown will face three black candidates running as independents: Janet Tarpley, Sean McKinney and Cecil Monroe.
Kitchen has no general-election opponent, which means he will be sworn in as council president in January.
Baldwin will face Atty. Mark Hanni.
The political racial divide that was evident Tuesday is not a new phenomenon. Years ago, when the black community had filed a lawsuit over the redrawing of state representative district boundaries, expert testimony showed that historically, in Mahoning County, blacks have voted for white candidates, but whites have been less than supportive of blacks.
With the changing demographics in the city of Youngstown – blacks now make up nearly 43 percent of the population as of 2015 – the tables seem to have turned.