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Youngstown Council race heats up for Kitchen

Current president to face three other write-ins

YOUNGSTOWN — With Youngstown Council President DeMaine Kitchen having to run as a write-in candidate, he will be among four seeking the seat in the Democratic primary for the job.

In addition to Kitchen, who is serving his first four-year term as council president, the three other write-ins are Christopher N. Travers, Thomas Hetrick and Lee David Pupio.

The three all filed by Monday’s deadline.

The candidate with the most write-in votes during the May 3 primary will be the Democratic nominee for the position.

Kitchen of Struthers Liberty Road was the only candidate to file nominating petitions for the seat. But he withdrew Feb. 11 when the Mahoning County Board of Elections informed him he didn’t have enough valid signatures to get his name on the ballot.

Kitchen turned in petitions with 67 signatures — needing 50 to be valid. But the board could only find 46 valid signatures and told him the day before a certification vote that he would be disqualified if he didn’t withdraw.

Kitchen withdrew his petitions Feb. 11 and filed as a write-in candidate.

Kitchen is a former 2nd Ward councilman as a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran in 2013 as an independent candidate for mayor.

He won the four-man Democratic primary for council president four years ago and then defeated a write-in candidate in the general election.

“I was up to the challenge when I had three people run against me the last time and I’ll be up to it again,” Kitchen said.

The three other candidates filed paperwork Monday with the board of elections. They are:

• Travers of Sheridan Road, who was chairman of the 2016 charter review commission and unsuccessfully ran in 2013 as an independent for the council president. He finished last in that three-person race, getting 14.66 percent of the vote.

Democrat Charles Sammarone, a former longtime council president who was mayor at the time, won that election with 66.95 percent of the vote. Sammarone was elevated to mayor in August 2011 when Jay Williams resigned to take a job with the then-President Barack Obama administration.

Sammarone pleaded guilty in March 2020 to two felony counts of tampering with records — crimes he committed while mayor.

• Pupio of North Wendover Avenue, who filed petitions two years ago to run as an independent for the 5th Ward council seat.

Pupio was disqualified in 2019 because of a lack of valid signatures. He turned in petitions with 26 signatures and needed 25 to be valid. The board determined 22 were good and didn’t certify him to the ballot.

Pupio is a former city wastewater collection systems maintenance operations employee.

• Hetrick of Catalina Avenue, who is running for city office for the first time.

Hetrick works for Mercy Health-Youngstown and before that was a neighborhood planner for the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.

Candidates for Struthers council seats and treasurer could have also filed by Monday’s deadline, but none did.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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