Nine in 5th Ward seek seat on Youngstown City Council

YOUNGSTOWN — Nine people will vie to be the next Youngstown City Council 5th Ward member with the selection to be made Jan. 7.

The candidates submitted applications for the appointment by Wednesday’s deadline.

The position will be open when Councilwoman Lauren McNally begins her term in the Ohio House starting Jan. 1.

The 5th Ward term is up for election in November 2023, so the person appointed will have to run then for a full four-year term. The ward includes most of the city’s lower West Side.

Those voting on McNally’s successor are the six Mahoning County Democratic Party central committee members from the city’s 5th Ward.

The candidates who are seeking the appointment will have the opportunity to meet with the committee members at a Dec. 17 event organized by the county Democratic Party, said Chairman Christopher Anderson. There are seven central committee seats in the ward, but one is currently vacant, he said.

The city’s 5th Ward central committee members will meet Jan. 7 to hear speeches from the candidates and select McNally’s replacement, Anderson said.

After that decision is made, the full central committee will meet that day to appoint a successor to county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, whose retirement took effect Wednesday, Anderson said. The deadline to apply for that position is Dec. 9.

The Democratic central committee gets to select replacements for McNally and Gains because the two were elected Democrats.

The candidates who applied for the 5th Ward appointment are:

∫ Brandon Kovach, founder and chief financial officer of the Kovach Companies. Kovach sought to run in 2018 for Mahoning County auditor, but didn’t have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. He lost the Columbiana County auditor’s race in 2014.

∫ Carie Watson, a teacher and literacy coach at Youngstown Community School.

∫ Cynthia McWilson, a nurse for Centers for Dialysis Care and one of the six 5th Ward central committee members who get to vote on the next council member. McWilson unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 1999, 2003 and 2015 as well as for an Ohio House seat in 2014 and for Youngstown council president in 2017.

∫ Pat Kelly, security chief for the Youngstown school district. Kelly is a former Youngstown police detective sergeant and was Campbell police chief until a few months ago.

∫ David Hight, class supervisor at Mahoning County High School who previously worked at Parker Hannifin.

∫ Terry Grenga, an attorney who used to be a Youngstown assistant law director and Mahoning County assistant prosecutor.

∫ Richard Yaslik, parts manager at Kufleitner Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

∫ Emmett Warren Jr., a wastewater treatment plant operator at the Mahoning County Engineer’s Office and the owner of rental properties in the city.

∫ Paul Dahman, service and support administrator for the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

The candidate selected to succeed McNally must get a majority of the six central committee members, which is at least four, so the process could possibly take multiple votes.

If six candidates get one vote each, they would each draw straws to eliminate half of them with those getting no votes automatically removed from consideration, Anderson said. Those remaining would give shorter speeches before another vote.

If one candidate gets two or three votes, those who receive one vote would go through a similar process of elimination with the remaining candidates speaking again before another vote is held, Anderson said.

If it comes down to a 3-3 tie between two candidates, the appointment would go to the person winning a two-out-of-three coin flip, he said.

Two others applied for the position, but they aren’t eligible for the appointment, Anderson said. One lives in the 7th Ward and the other was moved from the 5th to the 4th Ward when council redistricted the city in February, Anderson said.

McNally won a four-person race in the Nov. 8 election in the 59th House District for an open seat with 40.4 percent of the vote.



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