Youngstown law director shakes up race for court clerk

YOUNGSTOWN — In what could be seen as the next level of the uneasy relationship between Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and Clerk of Courts Sarah Brown-Clark, city Law Director Jeff Limbian filed to run for the clerk of courts’ job against the incumbent’s handpicked successor.

Limbian, who is one of Brown’s closest friends, filed nominating petitions Monday to run as an independent candidate against Democrat Richard Vincent Hill. Also filing as an independent was Corrine Sanderson, a former Youngstown school board member.

Limbian’s eligibility as an independent may come into question as he’s voted in every Democratic primary — including two of them last year — since 2012.

Limbian said: “I’ve disconnected with the Democratic Party with my filing. That makes it clear that I am no longer a Democrat.”

Limbian said the mayor is aware of his candidacy, but “we haven’t had an in-depth discussion about it.”

But he said Brown didn’t ask him to run.

Asked about Brown’s thoughts on his campaign, Limbian said: “I’d like to keep our personal conversation private.”

Brown couldn’t be reached Monday to comment.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Limbian said of his candidacy. “The office needs revamping in a substantial way. Too much money is being spent there. We need a more streamlined operation.”

Limbian said he won’t resign as law director during the campaign.

Limbian has run unsuccessfully for municipal court judge twice and for county common pleas court two times.

Hill was handpicked by Brown-Clark, who was first elected to the position in 1999, to succeed her.

Brown-Clark had said she kept her decision not to seek re-election a secret in order to help Hill replace her. Hill was the only candidate to file for the seat in the Democratic primary.

Brown-Clark had said she plans to seek a different office and strongly hinted she would run in two years for mayor.

“I expected opposition,” Hill said. “Whoever wants to run can run, and I’ll run my race.”

Asked if he believed the mayor asked Limbian to challenge him, Hill said: “I don’t know what their intentions are. I just focus on my race and run to the best of my ability.”

Brown-Clark couldn’t be reached Monday to comment.

With the backing of Brown-Clark, Hill finished a distant fourth in the 2021 Youngstown mayoral race as an independent with Brown winning his second four-year term.

Hill has worked in the clerk’s office for 23 years and is the criminal and traffic division supervisor.

Sanderson also is running as an independent for the seat.

Sanderson said she worked for 23 years as a paralegal.

Brown-Clark “asked (Hill) to run in the mayor’s race because of conflicts she has with the mayor,” Sanderson said. “She’s planning to run for mayor. She’s trying to hold both seats.”

Sanderson unsuccessfully ran in 2019 as an independent for 5th Ward council seat and lost the 2016 race for an Ohio House seat as the Republican nominee.

Monday was the deadline for independent candidates to file for the Nov. 7 general election. The Mahoning County Board of Elections still has to certify the validity of nominating petitions for each candidate to get on the ballot.

This deadline was for candidates running for seats in Youngstown, Struthers, the village of Poland and for Campbell Municipal Court judge. The deadline is Aug. 9 for candidates to file for nonpartisan seats such as township trustees and school board members.


A number of independent candidates who filed to run in the general election for Youngstown city council either never have voted or did so only in the 2021 election.

Of the independent candidates who filed by Monday’s deadline for Youngstown council, Million Perry-Phifer in the 2nd Ward and Linsey Bonnette in the 5th Ward never have voted before, according to county board of elections’ records.

Also, there’s a notice on Perry-Phifer’s voter registration that requests him to update it because he may have moved recently or not voted.

Among the other independent candidates, Christine Lewis in the 4th Ward has voted only once: in the November 2021 general election, and Amber White in the 7th Ward voted in only the Democratic primary and general election in 2021.

Also, Lewis is the daughter of White’s husband, John, who was not certified as a 2021 independent mayoral candidate because the elections board ruled him ineligible. He voted in the Democratic primary after filing as an independent, so he wasn’t considered an independent. Also, White registered to vote in 2021 making him ineligible under the city charter, which requires mayoral candidates to be an elector in the city for five years.

If he were elected, White would not have been allowed to serve because of his felony record.

Instead, Amber White ran for mayor as a write-in and finished in third place, one spot ahead of Hill.

Benjamin Brown, who filed to run as an independent candidate in the 2nd Ward, voted in the 2008 election and then didn’t cast ballots again until the 2021 and 2022 general elections while Jermaine Donlow, who filed in the 1st Ward, voted in the 2008 and 2012 general elections and then didn’t vote again until last year’s general election, according to their voting records.

Richard Yaslik in the 5th Ward has been a consistent voter since 2010. He unsuccessfully sought the Mahoning County Democratic Party’s appointment to the ward seat in January.

Cheryl Findley in the 6th Ward has voted annually since 2016.

Between the Democratic primary, Republicans certified in the 1st and 7th Wards and independent candidates, Samantha Turner in the 3rd Ward is the only incumbent on Youngstown council not to face any challenger in her re-election bid this year.


Mark J. Kolmacic filed as an independent to run for Campbell Municipal Court judge.

Kolmacic lost the 2017 election for the seat to incumbent Judge Patrick P. Cunning, who was first elected to the job in 2005. Cunning could not seek re-election this year because of the state’s age limit law for judges.

Kolmacic’s father, Joseph, spent 30 years as Campbell Municipal Court judge.

If certified, Kolmacic will face Democrat Brian J. Macala in the general election for the judicial position.

Macala and Kolmacic have a long-running rivalry as they have challenged each other several times for Campbell law director.

Macala was elected law director in 1995, lost to Komacic in 2007, and recaptured the seat in the 2011 election.

No one filed as an independent for any seat in the city of Struthers.

All of the incumbents on city council along with Mayor Catherine Cerone Miller and Auditor Christina S. Bohl are running unopposed in today’s Democratic primary. With no independents or Republicans, they will all serve another term without challengers.

In Poland, Mayor Timothy D. Sicafuse filed as an independent and is the only candidate running for his seat. Incumbent Councilman James Walkama was the only independent to file for the legislative body. There are two seats on Poland Village Council up this election with incumbent Democrat J. Michael Thompson filing earlier this year.



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