Clerk of Courts Brown-Clark ponders future public office
YOUNGSTOWN — Sarah Brown-Clark, the longtime Youngstown clerk of courts who isn’t seeking re-election this year, said she isn’t done with running for political office.
“Think of it as a retirement from this position and a transition period because there are other things I want to do,” Brown-Clark said. “My background and experience will serve me well in a number of different capacities in the Mahoning Valley.”
Brown-Clark, a Democrat, chose not to file for re-election by Wednesday’s deadline for the May 2 primary, but said she decided about a year ago that she was going to move on from the clerk of court’s job she first was elected to in 1999.
Brown-Clark said she kept her decision quiet from everyone but her staff and focused on “grooming” Richard Vincent Hill, the office’s criminal and traffic division supervisor, to succeed her.
Because the decision was such a secret, Hill was the only Democratic candidate to file for the seat as others believed Brown-Clark would run for a fifth six-year term. No Republicans filed.
May 1, the day before the primary, is the deadline for independents to submit nominating petitions to get on the November ballot for the six-year position.
When Democrat Tim Ryan of Howland chose not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives seat he held for 20 years and instead run in 2022 for the U.S. Senate, Brown-Clark said she planned to challenge for that job.
But when Republicans redistricted the state’s congressional boundaries and moved Youngstown and all of Mahoning County into a safe Republican district with 10 other counties south of it — rather than the old district that was more favorable to Democrats and included Youngstown, Warren and Akron — Brown-Clark said she changed her mind.
“Redistricting complicated things,” she said. “Before that, it was what I was thinking about. I may again consider running for Congress if redistricting works out. People have asked me to do other things. I’d like to end my career as a representative in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., but it isn’t favorable at this time. I’m thinking through my options.”
Asked if running in 2025 for mayor was being considered, Brown-Clark said, “That’s a possibility. Mayor is a possibility. I have a broad range of experience as it relates to municipal government.”
Brown-Clark has had an uneasy relationship with Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, who is serving his second four-year term and is up for re-election in 2025.
Brown-Clark backed Hill in 2021 in his failed independent run for mayor. Hill finished fourth in the general election — even losing to a write-in candidate.
Brown-Clark declined to give specifics about her political future, but said she planned to run for another office.
“Probably two years from now it will come into focus what I want to do,” she said.
Brown-Clark added: “I know it’s mysterious sounding and it’s deliberately so. I’m going to do a little transition and move on, and it depends on redistricting and other things.”
Brown-Clark was elected to four six-year terms, starting in 1999, as clerk of courts. Before that, she was elected citywide to two terms as a Youngstown school board member.
Brown-Clark said she felt no obligation to tell others about her plans to leave the clerk of courts’ job, adding that Rosemary Durkin, who held the post for 24 years before her, did the same thing in 1999.
“She didn’t announce it, but someone she knew told me so I knew it would be open,” Brown-Clark said. “I had six days to get the petitions signed. You live and learn. That was a good strategy to not let people know.”
Brown-Clark added: “I didn’t feel it was necessary to publicize it because that opens the floodgates.”
Asked to explain, she said, “To a lot of drama when you announce too early. I didn’t feel I needed to make a public announcement.”
Brown-Clark said she didn’t want to retire from the job early and leave the decision about her successor in the hands of the Mahoning County Democratic Party’s central committee members from Youngstown.
“I have groomed someone and I hope he’s successful being elected,” she said of Hill. “I didn’t want to leave mid-term and have the party appoint. I introduced him in the mayoral campaign. He will do an excellent job. I didn’t want the party to appoint. I wanted the position to be put in place by the voters. I deliberately constructed this scenario as you see it unfolding.”