|Running for||Youngstown Council President|
|Education||B.A. from Westminster College, New Wilmington, PA. (Class of 1976). My major course of study was called Speech and Drama at the time of my graduation. Today it is called Communication Studies, Theatre & Art. I had a concentration in radio broadcasting.|
|Employer||I am currently employed as a sales specialist for J.C. Penney at the Southern Park Mall in Boardman.|
|Family||Spouse: Atty. Patricia Dougan
No children of my own, but I have three step-children through Patricia: James L. Thompson, Anissa J. Thompson Kalbasky, and Sean A. Thompson.
|Family in office?||None|
|Reasons for running||In a Vindicator story published on December 23rd of last year, outgoing mayor Charles P. Sammarone said about the Covelli Centre, “It’s not an anchor for downtown.” He suggested it didn’t have a significant impact in breathing new life into Youngstown’s central business district, that it was a mere role-player in the overall scheme of redevelopment. I looked at that and thought if one cannot see the clearly enormous significance of one of our key magnets – or anchors – to downtown development, then one must question his vision and foresight as a leader.
Following Mr. Sammarone’s low opinion of the Covelli Centre came his decision a few weeks later not to run for re-election as mayor but instead seek a return to his old job as president of council which he held previously for 17 years. One of the reasons given was that he could manage his time better which ostensibly meant staying involved in the city’s affairs but working less. One wonders then why he would seek a position in which he could conceivably return to the time-demanding role of mayor as prescribed in the city’s charter.
Posing another issue in his re-election bid was the then absence of competition which begged yet another question. Should the outgoing mayor who staked the reputation of his administration on the concept of accountability be rewarded with his old job without having to speak to his own accountability during a campaign? For example, when discussing the city’s population loss with the Vindicator as published on May 23rd he said “the city didn’t respond fast enough.” His presence in city council chambers during this decline suggests that the lack of response includes him as well.
I made my decision to run in late March. When I made that decision, not only did I take into consideration our outgoing mayor’s lowly assessment of the Covelli Centre’s value to downtown’s revitalization and his desire to keep his finger in the pie while spending less time serving the public, but I also took into account his continued failure to embrace the 2010 Plan, his administration’s lack of action on many recommendations of the PFM study, and some awkward statements he made on joint economic development districts.
Unfinished business of the Charter Review Commission – something not entirely the mayor’s fault – also contributed a great deal to my decision to run.
|Priorities||-Initiatives that improve public safety and education within the city are always high priorities.
-Demolition of long-term abandoned structures is necessary but must be coupled with a strategic plan.
-Supporting measures that leverage existing assets (e.g. Youngstown Business Incubator, YSU, etc.) into business development, job creation, and population growth.
-Finding a long-term solution to the Covelli Centre debt must be explored as an alternative to the current year-to-year interest rate changes that have the potential to strain the city budget.
-Attention must be given to riverfront development in the downtown area; it will be the next defining feature of the city and a major attraction.
-Assisting in the creation of a nonprofit city parks conservancy modeled after similar successful entities in other cities will serve to strengthen a vital component of our city’s appeal to existing and new residents.
-Using social media to regularly communicate with residents and neighborhood groups is a must.
|Qualifications||During my career I helped launch one new radio station and re-launch an old one. I led a sizable cable television advertising operation with a significant budget. I was also intimately involved in the development of a technology company for eight years at the Youngstown Business Incubator.
In addition to my work background, I have traveled to Columbus to speak with state senators about the value of legislation that ultimately created the Mahoning County LandBank, a vital tool in community revitalization. I have organized productive meetings that brought the public together with city school officials and City Hall officials. I have been out front as a public spokesperson for issues such as housing code enforcement and neighborhood cleanup efforts. I have consistently put my time and talents to work in finding ways to make Youngstown not only a better place in which to live, but a place that would attract businesses and jobs.
The sum total of successfully assessing and addressing business issues, shaping and responsibly managing budgets, firmly guiding personnel matters, and providing community grassroots leadership is precisely the type of background that taxpayers should expect from the president of council. The president of council should bring new vision and confidence to that office, not recycled half-measures, and through my past and present community leadership I can expand the role of president of council to that of a non-voting but influential advocate-at-large.
|Positions on the issues||Redistricting – I will support a charter amendment modeled after Cleveland’s that will determine the number of wards in the city by virtue of a standard population factor after each decennial census.
Fracking – While some say hydraulic fracturing is the safest drilling technology ever and others work hard to convince the public it is an invitation to certain environmental catastrophe, I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Nevertheless, I believe fracking on our public lands and city parks is wholly inappropriate and should not be permitted within city limits.
Planning – While obtaining the services of YNDC to create an urban development plan is a step in the right direction, the City must be willing to embrace and execute the plan when it’s completed.
Charter amendments – From the above-noted redistricting to about a dozen other valid recommendations from last year’s Charter review Commission, there is a lot of unfinished business at hand. The city’s charter – it’s framework for governance – must meet the demands of a city working to attract new business and new residents while maintaining new necessary standards for efficiency. If city council is unwilling to give these recommendations their fullest consideration, then they should be reminded that an increasingly organized electorate is prepared to move these measures forward for them. Proposed amendments for next spring’s primary that address a) redistricting and b) proportionately tying (and reducing) city council pay to U.S. Census data receive my full support.