There are no Republican challengers for any of 7 seats
By David Skolnick
While all seven seats on city council are up for election, there are only four with competitive Democratic primaries.
Also, there are no Republican challengers for any of the seats, which are all held by Democrats. May 6, the day before the primary, is the deadline for independent candidates to file for the positions.
Running unopposed in the May 7 Democratic primary are Mike Ray, D-4th; Anita Davis, D-6th; and Basia Adamczak, D-7th.
In the 1st Ward, incumbent Julius T. Oliver is being challenged by Bryant Youngblood.
The ward includes downtown along with portions of the East, North and South sides.
Oliver, who owns Kingly Hand Wash & Wax, said he’s a strong independent thinker who is working to help people improve their lives.
“I have lived the issues of the city financially, personally and from the ground floor up, and I know what it takes to create a greater quality of life,” he said.
Oliver added he’s created an environment that’s welcoming to developers, and has been honest in dealing with everyone.
Youngblood, a teacher at the Academy for Urban Scholars, said he’s running “to instill a sense of pride and hope throughout the community and attempt to demonstrate how effective our city can be when we can work together to fulfill a common goal.”
If elected, Youngblood said he would strengthen relationships among those in his ward “because of the pivotal role that it will play in creating opportunities and attracting more business to the inner city.”
He wants to work with city officials to transform some empty lots into quality apartment complexes.
In the 2nd Ward, incumbent Councilman T.J. Rodgers isn’t seeking re-election.
Vying for the seat are former police Chief Jimmy Hughes and Ra’Cole Taltoan, who owns Rockbrook Business Services.
The ward includes most of the East Side.
Hughes said he’s been a public servant his entire life and wants to give back to the city by serving on council.
Hughes said he understands the job of city council and, if elected, he can help the other members, particularly when it comes to issues dealing with safety forces.
“I want to make a difference in the way we live, improve our safety and focus on improving our roads,” he said. “I make a difference with my experience and my commitment.”
Taltoan said she wants to work with nonprofits, farmers and grocers to ensure access to healthy and affordable food in the 2nd Ward, and work to use underutilized land in the ward to bring affordable and sustainable housing.
She said she wants to grow small businesses in the city as there’s too much of a focus on trying to bring in big companies with little success.
“I am aware of the challenges that come with this position, and I plan to make a difference,” Taltoan said.
In the 3rd Ward, incumbent Councilman Nate Pinkard is not seeking re-election.
There are three Democratic candidates seeking to succeed him: Samantha Turner, Youngstown Area Goodwill’s director of operations; Darian Rushton, advanced medical support assistant at the Youngstown Veterans’ Administration Outpatient Clinic; and Denice Necie Neal-Davis, who spent about 30 years in Chicago politics in various administrative positions.
The 3rd Ward includes most of the North Side.
Turner said economic development “needs to be reinvented” in Youngstown. That, she said, includes improving businesses along the main corridors, removing blight and attracting businesses by creating incentives.
Turner also wants to improve the neighborhood infrastructure, including sidewalk and street repairs, supporting beautification projects and attracting new homeowners and helping them in their transition by connecting them with organizations and resources.
Rushton wants community centers with food banks on all sides of the city that will give people a place to meet.
He also wants to work to bring employment to the city.
“Living and working in environments with people I agree and disagree with has given me the ability to focus on the task that needs to be completed no matter who is put on the team I’m working with,” he said.
Neal-Davis said the city needs to attract more businesses, work on code enforcement – Youngstown could generate more revenue if code enforcement is taken seriously – and must be more aggressive with addressing the issue of abandoned buildings.
She suggests using large vacant structures such as Hayes Middle School and Northside Regional Medical Center to attract a trade school.
In the 5th Ward, incumbent Councilwoman Lauren McNally, a content manager at Involta, is facing Jim Cerimele, a retired street department foreman.
The ward takes in the lower West Side.
McNally said, “There is still work that needs done, and I am seeking re-election to continue pushing the 5th Ward and the city forward. I have a very clear and concise platform based directly off of the concerns residents have shared with me during the last few years.”
That includes, she said, improvements to the street paving process by finding ways to invest more money into roads and using better materials; fixing sewer problems; investing in the city’s corridors; and working to improve transparency in city government.
Cerimele didn’t respond to attempts by The Vindicator to seek comment on his candidacy.