Former Youngstown Police Chief and mayoral candidate Jimmy Hughes announced on Thursday that he is dropping out of the race for Youngstown mayor.
Hughes made the announcement during a press conference at Keynote Productions in downtown Youngstown.
Just last week, Hughes and candidate DeMaine Kitchen were cleared by the Mahoning County Board of Elections to run as independent candidates in the November election. Kitchen is currently working as current Mayor Chuck Sammarone’s chief of staff.
Hughes had originally filed to run as a Democratic candidate in the May primary but withdrew his candidacy. Later, he filed as an independent saying he was unhappy with the Democratic Party because they he didn’t receive much support from them.
Former Mahoning County Commissioner and former Youngstown Law Director John McNally won the Democratic primary in May.
Hughes said he is endorsing Kitchen for mayor and got out of the race to avoid potentially splitting the vote and essentially handing the election to McNally.
“The reality of the situation is that with two qualified independent candidates running in this election, the chances of either of us being elected is greatly diminished,” Hughes said.
Hughes said he initially jumped into the race to challenge McNally, who he claims is still dogged by the now seven-year-old Oak Hill Renaisaance Place corruption case. The former police chief said the corruption case is hanging over McNally’s head and he thinks McNally should address it.
However, McNally argues there is no cloud over his head and that he and others accused in the Oak Hill matter ultimately had all their charges dismissed and the case is closed. He said Hughes made what he calls a “stone-cold political decision.”
“I think he’s buckled under the pressure of a lot of people in the African American community who wanted him out of the race,” McNally said.
Kitchen said he welcomes Hughes’ endorsement with open arms, saying the decision was not just good for he and Hughes, but for the entire city.
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Betras made the following statement in response to Hughes’ decision:
“This is America, and obviously everyone has the right to support the candidate of their choice. Earlier this year, the members of the Mahoning Democratic Party who live in Youngstown chose to endorse and support John McNally’s bid for mayor. The voters ratified that choice in the primary election because they believe John is the person best qualified to lead the city in the years ahead. He has a clear vision for the future and is committed to improving the quality of life for every citizen in every ward. That’s why the party is going to work hard on his behalf and why I am confident he will be elected mayor on Nov. 5.”