By David Skolnick
While all the candidates who ran for mayor are black, the city’s largely white wards had a preferred candidate – and it wasn’t the winner, Jamael Tito Brown.
The predominantly white 4th, 5th and 7th Wards backed Sean McKinney, an independent candidate who finished second, 166 votes behind Brown.
Meanwhile, the largely black populated 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th Wards backed Brown, a Democrat, in the election he won by 1.5 percentage points, according to final but unofficial results.
The vote will be certified later this month.
Brown said he didn’t want to talk about why the mostly white wards didn’t embrace his candidacy, adding it “doesn’t matter.”
As mayor, Brown said, “I want to unify Youngstown, all seven wards, even the ones that didn’t support me. I’m going to work for everybody.”
McKinney, who resigned as the city’s building and grounds commissioner in April to run for mayor, has been all but invisible to the media since his loss. Except for a brief interview with The Vindicator late Tuesday after the election results, in which his only comment was he was waiting for all the votes to be counted, McKinney has not made himself available to the media, does not respond to texts and his cellphone’s voicemail is full.
William Binning, a former chairman of the Youngstown State University political science department, said the results by ward aren’t unexpected.
“Tito was clearly the African-American candidate coming out of the primary, and it was clear he was the preferred African-American candidate in the general election,” Binning said. “Tito won the primary with the African-American vote. There was no reason to believe it would change in the general.”
While outgoing Mayor John A. McNally, who is white and lost the Democratic primary to Brown, didn’t endorse a candidate to succeed him, his power bases in the city of the 4th, 5th and 7th Wards went with McKinney, Binning said.
Brown said he campaigned throughout the entire city but had a “focus” on his home turf: the 3rd Ward on the North Side. That focus apparently paid off as it was Brown’s strongest ward with him capturing 1,190 votes, or 64.7 percent, compared with 569 votes for McKinney, or 30.9 percent.
“The 3rd Ward was my base, and you make sure you shore up your base,” Brown said.
Overall, Brown received 47.1 percent of the city vote compared with 45.6 percent for McKinney. Three other candidates – Janet Tarpley and Cecil Monroe, both independents, and write-in Calvin Hill Sr. – received only 7.3 percent of the vote combined.
In the mostly black 1st Ward, which includes downtown and portions of the East and South sides, Brown received 711 votes, or 58.3 percent, compared with 403 votes, or 33 percent, for McKinney.
In the largely black 2nd Ward, which includes most of the East Side and where McKinney lives, Brown easily won with 881 votes, or 58.9 percent, compared with 535 votes, or 35.8 percent, for McKinney.
In the largely white 4th Ward, which includes the upper West Side, McKinney won with 704 votes, or 53.8 percent, to 516 votes, or 39.4 percent, for Brown.
In the 5th Ward, which is mostly white with pockets of black neighborhoods and is on the West Side with a small section of the South Side, McKinney received 1,449 votes, or 59 percent, to 818 votes, or 33.3 percent, for Brown.
The tightest race was in the mostly black 6th Ward on the South Side. Brown received 639 votes, or 47.1 percent, to 531 votes, or 39.1 percent, for McKinney. It was the only ward in the city in which no candidate received at least 50 percent of the vote. That was largely because Tarpley, a former 6th Ward councilwoman, picked up 181 votes, or 13.3 percent.
In the mostly white 7th Ward on the southeast side of the city, McKinney had his biggest win. He picked up 865 votes, or 61.3 percent, to 467 votes, or 33.1 percent, for Brown.
Meanwhile, Brown, who is director of operations for the Mahoning County Treasurer’s Office, said in the coming days he will start to put together a transition team that will help him collect and review resumes for the numerous mayoral appointments, including several department heads, he will make.
Brown said he hasn’t decided on which McNally appointees he’ll retain. But, as he said before the election, he’ll be looking for a new finance director.
An indictment of downtown developer Dominic Marchionda contends a $25,000 bribe was given to an unidentified city official to help the developer.
David Bozanich, the current finance director, is the unnamed city official, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.