Races Lively for Council President in Youngstown and Warren

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Incumbent Warren Council President Bob Dean admits he may not be favored by colleagues on city council and that may be why he will face a challenger in the May primary.

Dean said that despite the opposition, he is running for the right reasons and others seeking public office should be too.

“Not because you’ve been drafted, not because somebody’s mad at somebody and wants you to get even for them,” said Dean.

The challenge is coming from retired United Auto Workers Union local president Jim Graham, who claims he was solicited to run by a number of council members.

“How do I put this? I don’t want to, you know, condemn Mr. Dean for what he’s done,” said Graham. “What I’m trying to do is show that what I bring to the table can help the city.”

Graham said his 44 years with General Motors in Lordstown and 15 years as president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 will allow him to act as a conduit between the mayor and council.

“We have a lot of issues that have to be addressed in Warren, and the only way you can address those, obviously, is together in unison with the administration,” Graham said.

Dean believes his most important work happens away from council chambers.

“When you can do, based on the influence of that office, when you can do positive things then you do them,” said Dean. “I tell everybody I have more fun outside of council that I do inside.”

In Youngstown, two Green Party candidates are facing each other to see who can challenge Democrat Chuck Sammarone, and a community activist put himself into the race on Thursday as an Independent candidate.

Chris Travers, and a group of supporters, kicked off his campaign on Thursday. Travers said one of his priorities will be to revive discussions of a number of charter amendments proposed by the city’s Charter Review Commission he believes were largely ignored by council members.

Travers’ background includes retail and commercial sales and has been a leader with the 7th Ward Citizens Coalition for several years.

“They languish, these changes, they languish in legislative limbo,” Travers said. “Real leadership needs to put traction under those ideas and under those changes. As a leader of the city council, I intend to do that.”

Sammarone wants to give up the mayor’s office and return to City Council as president.

“The Democratic Party has been, you know for a long time, had a stronghold here and not everything that they are pushing is in the best interest of the community,” said Sammarone.

Youngstown State University part-time instructor Susie Beiersdorfer, one of two Green Party candidates, has used her campaign to help boost support for a charter amendment to ban hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas inside city limits.

“I have to say it wasn’t about me saying I want this job so I can get this salary,” said Beiersdorfer. “It’s about me saying we need a change.”

Beiersdorfer’s competition in the Green Party is Schwebel’s Bakery worker Terry Esarco.

Esarco said he sees the president of council position as more than simply to conduct council meetings every other week.

“I’ll be pushing this as a 40 hour work week schedule,” said Esarco. “I’ll be treating this as an at-large chair.”

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