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Second candidate withdraws from Youngstown school board race

YOUNGSTOWN — Another Youngstown school board candidate has withdrawn from the race.

Nia Simms of Ferndale Avenue, the lone write-in for the school board, informed the Mahoning County Board of Elections on Friday that she was no longer a candidate, saying she doesn’t have time for it with her full-time job.

Simms is the second school board candidate to withdraw this week. It comes a week after it was determined that a state law would dissolve the school board effective Jan. 1. Even so, a Nov. 5 election will be held for four seats on the board.

Patrick O’Leary of Glacier Heights withdrew Wednesday, citing the state law as the reason.

“The recent uncertainty created by (the law) has turned the Youngstown City School Board race into a futile exercise. In order to win an election, one must campaign. In order to campaign effectively, one must raise and spend money or at least ask friends, family and even strangers to generously work on their behalf. This plan is no longer ethical or reasonable due to the unlikelihood that the newly elected board members will ever get to serve,” O’Leary wrote in his withdrawal letter.

That leaves five candidates on the ballot running for four seats. They are: Barbara Brothers of Fifth Avenue, Brenda Kimble of Cabot Street, Tiffany D. Patterson of South Glenellen Avenue, Juanita Walker of Carlotta Drive and Dario Hunter of Pasadena Avenue.

Kimble and Hunter are incumbents. The state law doesn’t permit elected officials to be appointed to the new five-member board by Mayor Jamael Tito Brown.

Under House Bill 70, referred to as the Youngstown Plan and signed into law in 2015, academically failing school districts were taken over by the state. Youngstown was the first, followed later by East Cleveland and Lorain. The state passed a moratorium in July on having other poor-performing school districts lose local control.

HB 70 also calls for school districts under state control to dissolve their school boards if they don’t get an overall grade on the state report card of C or higher in the fourth year after three failing years. Youngstown on Sept. 12 received an overall F grade for the fourth straight year. That will eliminate the existing elected seven-member school board effective Jan. 1 and replace it with the mayor-appointed board.

Brown said he’s considering appointing school board members who win in the Nov. 5 election, but wouldn’t be permitted to choose Kimble or Hunter as they are already elected officials.

O’Leary said he’s not interested in an appointment by Brown.

HB 70 calls for the creation of a nominating panel no later than 30 days after Youngstown received its fourth failing grade to form. That would be no later than Oct. 12.

That panel then has up to 30 days to nominate 10 candidates with Brown having no more than 30 days after getting those nominations to choose five members.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com