YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The race for Youngstown Mayor in the May 2 Democratic Primary will feature the same two candidates as four years ago — incumbent John McNally and Jamael Tito Brown, who said trust needs to be restored at City Hall.
Brown announced Thursday morning he would run again. He was greeted with a standing ovation by the 100 people who showed up to hear the news at Union Baptist Church on Lincoln Avenue.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we need honest government,” he said.
Brown has been Youngstown’s Third Ward councilman and council president. He currently works in the Mahoning County Treasurer’s Office.
“That position is a public servant job, it’s for the community, it’s for the people, and what better way for me to continue serving?”
Four years ago, he lost to McNally in the Democratic Primary by 142 votes.
McNally later appointed Brown to the board of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District — a point Brown brought up after his speech today.
“At that time, the current mayor still was professing that he was innocent because I wouldn’t be part of anything.”
Last February, McNally pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors involving the sale of Oakhill Renaissance Place. While answering questions today, Brown said McNally’s legal issues will be part of the campaign.
“John was in a position of trust and he violated that. And for that, I believe any elected official, when you do that, you’re disqualified to be an elected official.”
McNally disagrees. He said he’s looking forward to the campaign, knowing full well his past will be an issue.
“You can lead off with it, that’s fine. But eventually, people are going to want to know what you want to do to move the city forward, how you can do it. We have a great record to move forward on. I’m looking forward to talking about that.”
If Brown becomes mayor, he said the focus needs to be on finding jobs.
“We got a 40 percent poverty rate here…No matter where the jobs are at, we got to go get them.”
He also wants to build community centers to give kids and teens something productive to do.
“We’re tearing down, but we need to start rebuilding and reinvesting into our community,” Brown said. “If we’re putting $5.3 million in demolition, we need to put the same back into our neighborhoods, back to our community.”
McNally said some of his campaign’s accomplishments have a lot to do with the people who work for the city.
“We’re going to talk about our employees. Whether it’s our police department and the number of guns they’ve taken off the street, whether it’s the street department, the great job they do in all sorts of weather conditions.”
Several politically-involved community groups in Youngstown hold debates on the races and issues. Over the next three months, there will be at least three debates between McNally and Brown, and ample opportunities for a total discussion on Youngstown in the future.