Three vie for mayor post

YOUNGSTOWN – Three candidates are vying in the Democratic party to replace current Mayor Charles Sammarone.

Former law director and Mahoning County Commissioner John McNally will face President of Council Jamael ”Tito” Brown and Matthew Smith for the seat.

Sammarone was president of council until September 2011, when he was elevated to the mayoral position to take the place of Jay Williams, who took a position in President Barack Obama’s administration. Sammarone opted not to run for mayor and is instead running for his old seat as council president.

McNally said his biggest priorities as mayor are safety, aggressive removal of blight and increased partnerships with surrounding townships and cities.

To that end, he said he wants to expand the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, which was started by the police department in 2012. He also wants to interact more with residents by showing them the department’s crime statistics to get their help on what more the police can be doing in their neighborhoods.

He said he also wants to work on ways to speed up the demolition process, especially with the city’s building inspection program, and look for ways the city and other entities can collaborate and save the duplication of services, such as with 911 systems and computer support systems.

Brown, the former 3rd Ward councilman on the North Side, said he wants to focus on jobs, keeping jobs that are already in the city and creating new jobs. One way to help both of those areas is to capitalize on the city’s strengths in low-cost housing and cost of living and its renewed incentive efforts through the Economic Development Department, he said.

Brown also said he wants to focus on safety, ensuring neighborhoods are well-lit and to perhaps create a 311 phone system, in which residents can speak to someone and make a report for a non-emergency so officers on the road can be freed up to do more patrol and answer more serious calls.

He also said he wants to add cameras in high crime areas and along the city’s corridors to fight crime as well.

Brown said he wants to improve the city’s neighborhoods by having a strategic demolition plan for blighted structures, and he also wants to target neighborhoods that he termed are in ”the middle,” or neighborhoods that are good now but can either get better or will turn worse.

Smith has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment.