Lawsuit filed seeking to have Mahoning Democrats appoint a new Youngstown mayor
By David Skolnick
Dario Hunter, a Youngstown school board member, filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court seeking to require the Mahoning County Democratic Party’s central committee and Chairman David Betras to appoint a new Youngstown mayor.
Hunter’s contention in Tuesday’s suit is Jamael Tito Brown, the current mayor, doesn’t validly hold the office because he didn’t obtain a faithful-performance bond required for the job by Jan. 1, his first day in the position.
Brown obtained a performance bond Feb. 21, retroactive to Feb. 1.
Law Director Jeff Limbian said the bond’s underwriters notified him Monday that the bond will be retroactive to Jan. 1 shortly.
“I don’t know if it’s needed by Jan. 1,” Limbian said. “There is a reasonable time period needed to obtain the bond. It’s a process. These were done by February, which is reasonable. But to be sure, we’re having it done retroactively to Jan. 1.”
The Vindicator obtained a copy of the bond for John A. McNally, the previous mayor, which shows he was bonded effective Feb. 21, 2014, [the first year of his term], with no retroactive date.
Hunter said: “The questionable plan for retroactive coverage aside, the facts remain that the required bond was not obtained on time. Jamael Tito Brown is not the mayor of Youngstown, and I ask that the parties who have the power to fill the vacancy in that office do so with due haste so as to minimize the liabilities by this situation.”
Betras called Hunter’s lawsuit “frivolous, laughable and ridiculous.” Betras also said he plans to sue Hunter for legal fees related to this matter.
In his complaint, Hunter wrote that Brown’s “failure to timely procure bond” means he refused to take office under state law. Hunter cited state law that each “officer of a municipal corporation required by law or ordinance to give bond shall do so before entering upon the duties of office.” Not doing so, Hunter wrote in the complaint, is equivalent to a person refusing to accept the office to which he was elected.
The city charter requires the member of the board of control – the mayor, law director and finance director – to post individual $100,000 bonds for “faithful performance of their duties.”
The bonds are required, Limbian said, if a board of control member is sued “outside your immunity as a public official. This would cover it. But that is a rare occurrence.”