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Youngstown residents question candidates for mayor

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Fifteen days from the general election and Youngstown's heated mayoral race continues.

On Monday, candidates for Youngstown's Mayor were invited to participate in a question-and-answer forum at Union Baptist Church.

Present for the debate were four of the six candidates, including Independent Candidates Frank Bellamy and DeMaine Kitchen, as well as Democratic-backed John McNally, and Write-in Candidate Claudette Moore.

The forum did not include a panelist and offered residents the opportunity to express their concerns and ask questions. Despite accusations of harassment, cheating, and bullying, that have plagued the mayoral race, residents stayed mainly focus on issues of crime, job growth, and education.

"I believe for far too long special interests have ruled this community, it's my desire to put the "you" back in Youngstown because you deserve safer streets, you deserve better schools and you deserve more jobs," said Kitchen.

"You need to have a school system in your city, in the main city in a county, if you have any hope of bringing new employers to this area," said McNally.

The forum was the first for Bellamy, who said he avoided past debates because he felt they were in favor of Kitchen and/or McNally.

"I'm sadden to see the race in this campaign sunk to some race, white folks on this side, black folks on this side. Do we want DeMain, do we want John? Both of them are flawed what do you do," asked Bellamy. "Hey, do we deserve better? If there was somebody better I would have stayed home."

During the forum, Moore spoke openly about her past, which includes dealing drugs. She said God has changed her life and called on her to run for Mayor.

"I'm trying to tell you the only way we can get anything done is to put an inner city mayor in the chair, who will go and beg for grants," said Moore. "We can't answer none of your questions with out money, nothing."

Another focus of the forum was a charter amendment that would attempt to ban oil and gas drilling inside city limits.

Opponents say if passed, the amendment would have no effect, since drilling is regulated by state and federal rules and laws. Still opponents label the move as a "job killer."

Supporters point to the dangers associated with the industry.

"It's not a matter of choosing between health and money, we need jobs for Youngstown to grow. Our town is dyeing we need, the jobs, we need taxes to pay for police and fire, " said FloEtte Jordan, a resident against the amendment.

"The jobs will still be here in terms of the manufacturing base which has existed in this valley over 100 years, the jobs that will be banned are the jobs that are coming in and drilling the wells and those types of jobs I don't think you want," said Youngstown State Geologist Raymond Beiersdorfer, who is for the amendment.

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