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Write-ins consolidate attempts

YOUNGSTOWN — Christopher N. Travers is withdrawing as a candidate for Youngstown council president and throwing his support behind Thomas Hetrick.

Travers said Wednesday that he’ll contact the Mahoning County Board of Elections today about no longer being a candidate for the job.

What’s unique about the race is all of the council president candidates in the Democratic primary are running as write-ins after incumbent DeMaine Kitchen had to withdraw when the board of elections informed him he didn’t have enough valid signatures to get his name on the ballot.

Kitchen was the only person to submit nominating petitions for the position.

Kitchen’s problem led to him file as a write-in, followed by Travers, Hetrick and Lee David Pupio.

After learning who else filed, Travers said he decided to withdraw and throw his support behind Hetrick.

“Tom and I are cut from the same cloth,” Travers said. “Our visions are very similar.”

Travers called Hetrick “the best person for the job. There can’t be two of us in the race saying the same things.”

Hetrick said he was “very grateful to have the support of” Travers.

“I’ve known Chris for a long time,” he said. “We share a lot of the same goals and desires for the city like safe neighborhoods and providing healthy food. The president of council is in a very unique position to form partnerships.”

Both said they wouldn’t have considered running for the position had Kitchen obtained the needed 50 valid signatures to get his name on the ballot.

Kitchen turned in petitions with 67 signatures, but only 46 were determined by the board to be valid.

“It opened up a wonderful opportunity,” Hetrick said.

Travers, an unsuccessful 2013 council president independent candidate, said getting 50 valid signatures isn’t hard and called it a “failure” on Kitchen’s part.

Hetrick, a first-time candidate, works in community nutrition for Mercy Health-Youngstown and before that spent seven years with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.

Hetrick and Travers said a citywide write-in campaign will be strange, but they’re committed to it.

“I’ve worked with people in Youngstown and I’m getting my name out there, getting as much face time calling people as I can,” Hetrick said. “It will be a very interesting first campaign for me, but I’m very excited about it.”

The Democratic primary is May 4.

No Republicans filed for the seat.

May 3 is the deadline for those wanting to file nominating petitions to run for the seat as an independent.

Kitchen won a four-man Democratic primary for council president in 2013 and then beat a write-in candidate in the general election. He is a former 2nd Ward councilman as a Democrat who lost in 2013 as an independent candidate for mayor.

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