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Re-elect Brown for mayor of Youngstown

Democracy is founded on choice. On that note, Youngstown voters are fortunate to have a choice this year of three intelligent, sensible and articulate candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot hoping to represent them as mayor.

Independent candidate Richard V. Hill, 45, wields expertise of urban government gained through his master’s degree in public administration and through decades of experience as a supervisor for Youngstown Municipal Court clerk.

Republican Tracey Winbush, 56, exudes in unbridled enthusiasm and passion for serving the city’s 60,000 residents. She brings a rare background in local and state Republican Party leadership, which likely would serve her well in connecting with our GOP-dominant state government.

Democrat incumbent Jamael Tito Brown, 49, can boast of decades of direct experience in elected offices and of maturity in evolving into an efficient and responsible mayor.

Each candidate shares similar priorities in cutting crime, promoting economic development and improving city infrastructure. That’s why it’s incumbent on voters to examine closely the backgrounds, public service records and detailed goals of each to narrow that field to one choice.

In his interview with The Vindicator editorial board, Hill displayed a solid knowledge of 21st century urban government protocols, ranging from Risk Terrain Modeling for police protection to Zero-Based Budgeting to keep tighter reins over city finances.

But when moving from the realm of social science theories to day-to-day understanding of nuts and bolts of city government, Hill fell short. For example, he would like to increase the ranks of police, but he did not have a firm handle on how many officers currently serve on the force. He also accuses Brown of fiscal irresponsibility, despite the fact the mayor can point to balanced annual budgets for the past three years — pre-pandemic and post-pandemic.

Winbush, to her credit, displays incredible chutzpah in throwing her GOP hat into the ring of a city that has been governed almost exclusively by Democrats for decades. That same confidence radiates in her sincere passion to improve the quality of life for all city residents.

We found some of her specific goals to be commendable, such as establishing a revolving loan fund for home improvements. However, in other areas she lacks critical concrete details needed to bring her big-picture visions for Youngstown into a workable focus.

Some of her goals, such as reducing the city’s 2.75 percent income tax, are unrealistic, at least in the short term. Others, such as ensuring all “criminals are fully convicted,” lie outside the sphere of influence of a mayor.

In other areas, Brown already is working on the same goals and priorities that his opponents pitch. Crime and improved public safety are a stain that the city’s chief executive must find a way to remove. Brown steadily is working toward that goal.

In public safety, his administration has secured an $800,000 grant to place more officers on the streets and is working to raise wages for all city officers. Along with his newly appointed police chief, he also has activated Neighborhood Response Units on the police force to strengthen community policing and make crime fighting more proactive than reactive.

On economic development, Brown successfully has been overseeing tens of millions of dollars in investments in street, sewer and other improvements in the downtown and gateways into the central city. He’s also been working closely with state and federal officials to clean up the city’s large stock of brownfield areas to pave the way for more industry to set up shop in Youngstown. In addition, he continues to work with other stakeholders at the new Excellence Training Center downtown. Through his Mayor’s Attainment 2025 program, more city students are gaining marketable job skills.

But perhaps Brown’s biggest achievement over the past four years has been his work to restore trust in what he accurately said had been a “toxic city.” Coming on the heels of an administration whose mayor was convicted in a federal corruption case, Brown has cleaned house, and no new scandals have blemished the city’s image.

By removing that cloud of corruption and by making some headway with economic development, infrastructure improvements, budgetary stability and fighting crime, we believe Brown has started down the right path to move Youngstown forward.

While each of the three candidates appearing on the General Election ballot offers winning traits that would serve him or her well as chief executive of Youngstown, we believe Brown deserves the opportunity to finish what he started.

We endorse Brown for mayor of Youngstown in the Nov. 2 election.

editorial@vindy.com

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