Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, who is completing his first four-year term as mayor and is assured re-election, said Saturday that President Barack Obama will most likely visit Youngstown in the spring. Williams, who was a guest on the radio talk show "The Valley's Talkin' With Doc and Bert" on 1330 TALK-WGFT, has been in discussions with White House officials about the presidential trip. Saturday's show was hosted by this writer; Mark Sweetwood, managing editor of The Vindicator, filled in for Dr. Bill Binning.
Williams, the first black to serve as mayor of the city, has been named The Vindicator's top newsmaker of the decade. He has attracted the attention of government officials and political leaders on the state and national levels.
A visit by Obama, the first black president of the United States, would serve to put Youngstown in the national spotlight. Williams would have the opportunity to discuss with the president the problems confronting old, industrial cities like Youngstown, such as high unemployment, especially among young blacks, a declining population and a failing public school system. But he also would have the chance to showcase the progress the city is making in rebuilding its economy through such global companies as Turning Technologies, which was nurtured at the Youngstown Business Incubator downtown.
And, the mayor would be able to urge the president to use the influence of his office to persuade the French owners of V&M Star Steel to proceed with their proposed $1 billion expansion project in Youngstown/Girard — if a decision has not been made by then.
A presidential visit to Youngstown would certainly be a feather in Williams' political cap.