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Tuesday's election brought out more area voters than expected


Published: Fri, November 10, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)


On the side

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican, was awarded the Jacob K. Javits Prize for Bipartisan Leadership, honoring him for achievements that advance the public interest without regard to political affiliation.

“In this highly-charged political environment, it is more critical than ever that we in Congress work to follow the example of Sen. Javits and find common ground so that we can most successfully address the pressing issues of today,” Portman said. “Whether it is reforming our broken tax code to bring more jobs back to America and increase wages, turning the tide of the opioid epidemic, or ending the heinous crime of sex trafficking, I am committed to continue working in a bipartisan manner to deliver results and get meaningful legislation passed for the people of Ohio.”

Javits was a liberal Republican senator from New York.

It turns out that turnout was better in Mahoning and Trumbull counties than board of elections directors predicted.

They still weren’t good, but didn’t reach record lows so at least we can put a positive spin on the results.

In Mahoning County, Director Joyce Kale-Pesta had predicted turnout at 20 percent to 25 percent late last week – an increase from her expected turnout in early October of 17 percent to 18 percent.

Turnout in the county ended up being 32.9 percent.

The expectation in Trumbull County from elections Director Stephanie Penrose was 23 percent to 25 percent.

It ended up being 30.7 percent in Trumbull County.

The “best” turnout in the Mahoning Valley was in Columbiana County with 33.3 percent.

Also, Adam Booth, the board of elections director there, nailed the turnout projection as he had said it would be between 30 percent and 35 percent.

Among the biggest surprises in this week’s election to me was the resounding rejection of Mark Hanni in the Youngstown Municipal Court race. Not only did he lose, but it wasn’t even close.

I think Hanni had more signs than votes.

As I wrote in last week’s column, money isn’t everything in politics, but it sure is important.

Hanni raised $28,641 in the pre-general-election campaign-finance period and loaned $1,000 to his campaign.

That was slightly more than what Carla Baldwin, the judicial race’s winner, raised. She received $28,049 in contributions during the same financial period.

Not only did Hanni have thousands of signs throughout the city, but he flooded the local TV airwaves with commercials portraying himself as being tough on crime while still being a loving grandfather.

When the early-voting results came in, Baldwin already had 68.1 percent of the vote.

She ended up winning with 65.8 percent of the vote and made history becoming the first black woman elected to the municipal court bench in the city’s history.

It was an impressive win with Baldwin doing well – though not winning – in the largely white 4th and 5th Wards on the city’s West Side.

Baldwin and her campaign team are to be commended for pulling off a solid victory in the primary with 58.3 percent of the vote against the endorsed candidate of the county Democratic Party, and then winning the general election by a larger margin.

In a rather bitter Struthers Municipal Court race, Dominic R. Leone III, who won the Democratic primary, withstood some nasty allegations and captured 57.9 percent of the vote.

Leone defeated Damian P. DeGenova, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary, despite raising and spending less money than his opponent.

I do my best to stay away from making predictions in competitive races. During an appearance a few days before the election on 21 WFMJ-TV, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner, I was asked about the Youngstown mayoral race.

My response was it was going to be a very close race between Democrat Jamael Tito Brown, a former council president and 3rd Ward councilman, and Sean McKinney, who resigned in April as the city’s buildings and grounds commissioner to run for mayor.

At least I got it right while avoiding to pick a winner.

Brown beat McKinney by only 166 votes, 1.5 percentage points, in what’s one of the closest general elections for Youngstown mayor in the city’s history.

It was one of those races in which every vote counted.

Of course in Mahoning County, about 6,000 votes counted more than once for a short period of time on election night.

In the pre-general-election reporting period, Brown and McKinney each raised a little bit more than $50,000.

But McKinney also received $41,300 in loans from family members for his campaign.

Janet Tarpley, a former 6th Ward councilwoman who ran for mayor, finished a distant third. She raised only $8,861 in contributions and loaned $6,000 to her campaign.

Tarpley said she simply couldn’t compete financially with Brown and McKinney.

For Brown, Tuesday’s victory was a bit of redemption after he lost the 2013 Democratic primary by a mere 142 votes to John A. McNally.

McNally won the general election that year, defeating DeMaine Kitchen, who made a political comeback this year winning the Youngstown council president’s race.

In this year’s Democratic primary for mayor, Brown beat McNally by 461 votes.


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