Mayor McNally isn’t impressed with those vying to replace him


On the side

The Mahoning County Board of Elections’ new online election reporting system was supposed to give voters all sorts of cool graphics and detailed information to use during Tuesday’s primary. The only problem was the election results failed to show up online while they were being tallied except for the early-vote totals and didn’t make an appearance until well after the results were finished.

Election officials didn’t know what happened as tests run last week and the day before the primary worked fine, said Thomas McCabe, the board’s deputy director.

“It was a glitch that happened with the vendor and it didn’t work out” during Tuesday’s primary, he said.

It’s a tabulation system and not the official vote count so the election wasn’t impacted except for those trying to follow online or on a TV the board put in its hallway for the benefit of those at its office on election night. Instead, election officials provided paper copies of results to those, including the media, at the board.

When I asked Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally, who lost the Democratic primary for his seat, if he was going to endorse any of the candidates looking to succeed him, he said, “Good Lord, no.”

McNally added: “No one is asking me and I don’t expect them to ask for it. They can win the race on their own.”

McNally, who is still perplexed as to how he lost, said, “I won’t be backing any of these four candidates. I worked with three of them and they have a long way to go to prove to me they should be mayor. None of the candidates have shown me why they should be elected mayor of the city of Youngstown.”

McNally also said, “I don’t know if I’ll be voting for any of them at this point.”

McNally lost Tuesday’s Democratic primary by 461 votes to Jamael Tito Brown, a former city council president and 3rd Ward councilman. In the 2013 Democratic primary, McNally beat Brown by 142 votes.

Three candidates filed to run as independents in the Nov. 7 general election. The Mahoning County Board of Elections must certify their nominating petitions before they can officially get on the ballot.

They are Janet Tarpley, a former 6th Ward councilwoman; Sean McKinney, the city’s former buildings and grounds commissioner; and Cecil Monroe, who has unsuccessfully run for city elected office a number of times.

A question is: who will the 3,862 people who voted for McNally in the primary back in the general election? That’s a hard one to answer, particularly with the general election six months away. Perhaps some will take a hint from McNally who says he doesn’t know if he’ll be voting for any of them.

After Tuesday’s defeat, McNally declined to congratulate Brown.

“I was a little disheartened; I looked for that call,” Brown said. “When I lost [in 2013], one of the first things I did was call him. When you lose and are not gracious it is not good sportsmanship. When you do that, it’s disheartening.”

McNally said his criminal convictions had nothing to do with the election outcome.

Brown, among others, disagreed.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said. “People want honest government. People want integrity in government.”

County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, who backed McNally, said, “It had an impact. I think it suppressed his vote. People didn’t want to go out and vote for him.”

McNally pleaded guilty in February 2016 to four misdemeanors and was given one year’s probation in March 2016 and allowed to remain in office.

McNally was accused of being part of a criminal enterprise that conspired illegally to 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. McNally was a county commissioner when the county, over his objections, purchased Oakhill in 2007.

The convictions relate to McNally illegally faxing the county’s confidential offer July 13, 2006, to buy Oakhill to a Cleveland law firm that represented Anthony Cafaro Sr., former head of his family-owned Cafaro Co. shopping-center business.

Also when you look at the primary election numbers, race played a major factor in the primary as it traditionally has in the city when a black candidate faces a white one.

Youngstown’s predominately black wards – even down to the precinct level – voted for Brown and the black candidates running for city council president and municipal court judge, and the same happened for McNally and white candidates running for other city offices.

Tuesday’s results has Betras reconsidering endorsing candidates in the primary election.

It would have been nearly impossible for the party’s endorsed candidates to do worse.

In addition to McNally, the two other endorsed candidates in Youngstown – 4th Ward Councilman Mike Ray for city council president and Anthony Sertick for municipal court judge – both lost.

The party also endorsed in Struthers races with disastrous results.

James E. Lanzo, its endorsed candidate for municipal court judge, lost.

Four candidates ran for three Struthers council-at-large seats. Dallas Bigley, the only candidate to not be endorsed by the party, was the top vote-getter in the Democratic primary. Anne M. Wilson, who received the most votes from Struthers central and executive committee members in the endorsement process, lost the primary election.

Two other council members – Michael S. Patrick and Joseph Rudzik – were endorsed and won the primary. But that’s hardly a victory for the party because as I mentioned there were three seats open and only four candidates so at least two endorsed candidates had to win.

Also, incumbent 2nd Ward Councilwoman Carol A. Crytzer, who was endorsed by the party, lost her re-election bid.

Councilman Tony Fire, D-1st, was endorsed by the party and was re-elected. But his endorsement was a strange one as he was the only precinct committee member out of three in the ward to attend the endorsement meeting and voted for himself.

The party may want to eliminate endorsing in the primary before candidates decide to not seek its support out of fear of losing.

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