One of the candidates in May’s mayoral primary in Youngstown admitted his past isn’t as he portrayed it.
Matthew Smith, one of the three Democrats vying for his party’s nomination, said he never graduated from college. However, Smith recently told a crowd at a candidates’ forum, where one of the panelists was WKBN/WYTV reporter Gerry Ricciutti, that he had a degree from Youngstown State University.
Smith has since claimed he was a graduate of the University of Akron. Friday, he said he took classes but never received a degree.
“Look at me, I’m trying to do something good. If I can’t do it, I want you to try to do it. That’s my message I give to people, okay? Maybe I didn’t finish school, but you can go on, you can finish school,” Smith said on Friday.
Smith said he took classes in the 1970s and ’80s, but ultimately left college for work and to support his family.
Smith has been campaigning that he wants to address crime in the city, especially drug-related offenses, however, Smith has had run-ins with police himself. He was convicted on a drug charge ten years ago.
“When I got arrested, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, okay? When I first grew up in a bad area, okay? Everybody knew I got high, you know? So, I started messin’ with it, it was a mistake,” said Smith.
Smith, who now preaches at a church on the city’s East Side, claims he understands what drives others with drug problems to commit crimes to support their habits.
Despite the cloudy history, Smith doesn’t think voters will hold his past against him at the polls.