21 News hosts forum for Youngstown mayoral candidates - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

21 News hosts forum for Youngstown mayoral candidates

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

The four candidates to be Youngstown's new leader have gathered just a block over from the office they hope to hold. 

21 News is hosted Jamael Tito Brown, Sean McKinney, Janet Tarpley, and Cecil Monroe in the latest of a number of forums on the election. 

Anchors and moderators Leslie Barrett and Derek Steyer have prepared questions that we think will be important to Valley residents. 

Questions were also taken from members of the community via a Facebook live stream of the forum. 

An overview of the forum can be found below. Note that answers have been shortened for clarity. 

Q: What are your goals if you become mayor?

Jamael Tito Brown: (TB)

As mayor, I will not settle or compromise to money power or politics. I'm going to fight for livable-wage jobs, have safer and brighter neighborhoods no matter where you live. And as mayor, we need to invest back into our parks, our youth, and our senior citizens. I want there to be accountability. Today, I want to talk about how we can get these done. 

Sean McKinney: (SM)

We can either move forward and rebirth Youngstown under my leadership, or let it die and write its obituary. The goal is to move Youngstown forward. I served under Mayor Jay Williams, I was rehired under Mayor Church Sammarone and I was hired again under our current Mayor John McNally. From 2006 to 2017, I have served in several areas of Youngstown's government.  I am ready day one on January 1 to continue to serve the citizens of Youngstown as your next mayor. 

Cecil Monroe: (CM)

There are those that believe that our city is doing fine, and I am not a part of that group. You cannot be doing fine with 30,000 people in a city of nearly 65,000 people at or below the party line. We aren't doing fine if our school systems continuously rank at the bottom. I'm running for mayor because I think someone needs to be able to solve those problems. Our city continues to be in the same situation that we have been in for many years. We cannot continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We have to change. I've served my country in the armed forces and I I want to continue serving you as the Mayor of Youngstown. 

Janet Tarpley: (JT)

I'm a lifelong resident of Youngstown. I believe in this city because I've been here for a very long time and I see it's potential. If we have the correct and right leadership, we can continue on. I have been apart of Youngstown's positive change for the last 8 years. I too am ready on day one. We need someone who knows what a person would do under fire and under difficult circumstances. I've made tough decisions and I'm ready to be the leader. I feel I'm the most qualifi3ed and the most prepared and I think it's time for change. And that change begins with this lady right here. 

Q: Youngstown's finance director Dave Bozanich is under the microscope after having his house raided by the Ohio auditors office in connection with an investigation into the misuse of city funds. If you were mayor today, would you ask Mr. Bozanich to resign?

CM: Absolutely yes. I would definitely have a conversation with him and encourage him to do the right thing, and the right thing is to resign. We have again, a city of 65,000 people and nearly 8,000 voted. That sizable difference suggests to me that there are a lot of people that have lost confidence and faith in our city government. To restore faith in that, swift action needs to be taken. The current mayor missed an opportunity to do so. To start restoring that level of confidence in the voters. In the event that he doesn;t resign, I would go to the next step. 

SM: As the mayor and the leader, everything begins and ends with you. Every person is innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Bozanich has not been indited, so if I was mayor at this time, I would not ask him to resign. I believe in letting the legal process play its way out, and then we let the chips fall where they may after that. It's unfortunate our city is facing another black eye. Our citizens expect more, our citizens demand more. But I would not be quick to go to judgment. You are innocent until proven guilty.

JT: Not only is he an employee, but he sits in a different position than most.  If he gets indicted as the leader of this city, I would ask him to resign because it would be time. You are innocent until proven guilty, however, because of his position and how his position would impact the community, I would have to ask him to go. 

TB: Right now, if he was not indicted, but under my administration, I believe in letting justice take precedence and move forward. Under my administration, there would be a new finance director in my administration. I don't want my staff to have to deal with previous issues. 

Q: Mayor John Mcnally refused to resign under indictment and then subsequently tried in a different corruption probe. Do you think he should have resigned?

SM: I think Mayor McNally went through the legal process and I think he followed the law in that process. That was a decision that I think Mayor McNally made for him and his family. I think the Democratic party could have put more stress on him to do so. Other leaders across the city could have put pressure if they so wanted. I believe Mayor McNally followed the legal process as it was presented to him. 

TB: Voters want honesty and integrity from their leaders. Once you're in that position, you should lead by example. If you are indicted while in that position, you should resign. I want to make sure we restore the integrity and transparency back in city hall. The voters want to know they can count on us. 

JT: I do believe he should have stepped down and we could have got a fresh start with new leadership. It simply hurt us and it hurt him. 

CM: This is been the recurring theme time and time again. Scandal after scandal. Absolutely he should have resigned. Members of his own party should have stepped forward and called for his resignation. This is not only another black eye, but it also further cements in the voters mind that government is not for them. He should have resigned right away. 

Q: In light of all the integrity issues going on with Youngstown public officials, would you ask members of your cabinet to sign an ethics document asking them to abide by rules of the city and the state?

TB: That would be first and foremost. I would ask that of all of my administration. This can't happen without an effect on local government. Individuals want to know they can invest in the city of Youngstown. I'll sign it, and I'll have all my cabinet members sign it as well. 

JT: I have no problem with that. I also want them to be drug tested. I don't see anything wrong with that. We have to do something different in order to have a real change in the city. 

CM: I would definitely have those individuals sign, and I would also have every city employee sign as well. We would have to have yearly conferences on public ethics as well to make sure we are reviewing that constantly. 

SM:  By all means, every last person in my administration would sign off on an ethics form. Our children are watching what is happening with government. 

Q: How will each of you be different? Are you willing to put your promises in writing?

JT: Absolutely. I look back often to see what did I say I'd do, and what did I accomplish. Vote for people who you already know have done something.We have to stand by records. I stand by my record as an elected official. Are you going to give somebody who has not been vetted by you be the top leader of this community?

CM: Yes. 

SM: I urge every voter to fact check every person that's running for an office. You can see the things that my team and I have accomplished from 2006 to 2017. Fact checking people is the only way you can move a city forward. 

TB: We will put our promises in writing. As someone who is a planner, we will put it in writing, and I'll have boots on the ground in the first 60 days.

Q: How do you get kids from Youngstown back into the city's schools?

SM: I've been working to move our children back into the city's schools. The plan is to have the Youngstown city schools continue to teach and administrate, but as the mayor and the leader of the city, we need to take care of everything else - brighter streets, grocery stores... We have to build the city from the inside out. When our parents see that you have a leader with integrity and character at city hall, that's when they start bringing the children back into the neighborhood. 

CM: The mayor cannot take a hands-off approach. Parents are moving their children out of city schools because they are not good enough. You cant fail year after year and expect students to stay. Parents care about their children's education. They put them in schools that are better. So we need to get better. We need commitment from the top all the way down. Talk is cheap. We have to put actions behind our words.

TB: I'm educated right here in this city. My job is to actually go out there and find jobs for mom and dad so the kids they're providing for can have a good life. Our kids should also feel safe. We have to reinvest to our youth by reinvesting in our parks. 

JT: We have to make the children that we have successful if we want more children to come to our schools. We need to push skilled trades. A lot of kids aren't doing well because they aren't doing good academically, and then they give up. They know they aren't going to college, and they need another option. 

Q: If Mr. Marchionda is found guilty, should the council members that voted to give him the funds be held accountable also?

TB: It's up to the mayor and his administration to vet the deals to make sure they're legal and ethical. That's not up to the city council. We need to make sure that we restore the confidence back in the voters, we have to make sure we have transparency. Everything we do needs to be open. 

SM: Under my administration, everything we do under taxpayers funds that we hold ourselves accountable. We will send that contract out to make sure that we are doing things correctly. Every elected official should be held accountable, no matter what. 

CM: It depends. I can tell you that on day one I'll instruct my law director to open up an investigation and to investigate this thoroughly to determine who is all involved and to what degree. and after that, we will proceed and do what is right under the law. I can't say yes or no now, but I can tell you I want to open an investigation and go from there. 

JT: We're not the administrative body. They should have had measures in place that should have monitored the funds on a monthly, weekly, quarterly basis. To say that city council should be held accountable for that? We don't have an attorney. We depend on the city's attorney. And we depend on the administration's attorney when they give us information. It wouldn't matter what reading it was in, we still would have received the same amount of information. 

Q, directed toward TB: What kinds of company or industry or jobs would Youngstown be marketed to? How would the marketing be paid for?

TB: If we're talking about recruiting marketing, we need to make sure we put our money where our mouth is. We need to put a team together and make sure they're going out and talking about what the city has to offer. There are companies founded by Youngstown State Alumni all over that could bring their companies here. We also have YBI, one of the greatest incubators in the nation. And we're going to focus on how to keep the 18-to-34-year-olds in the city. We have land, we have a good cost of living and we have workers that are ready. We have to make this a priority.  

JT: We need a diverse economy, so we need a diverse workforce. We need whatever we can possibly get. I don't think we should market to one type of business. We want everyone who wants a job to be able to get a job. We need big industry and small businesses. I'm knocking on all doors, I'm not leaving a stone unturned. 

CM: Corporations are coming close to Youngstown, but aren't settling down directly in the city. That's a problem to me. We have to get back in the game of competing. How is it that a city that has 65,000 people do not have a major grocery store or major retailer? That's unbelievable to me. We have to compete and negotiate to get these places here. 

SM: The buck stops with the CEO, with leadership. I will be the number one economic salesperson inside the city of Youngstown. We will be aggressive and passionate. Communication is key. Sometimes you have to do the little things to get the big things. We're known for manufacturing. We need to continue to use our urban renewable sites in Youngstown. 

Q: When you have a population that's aging and therefore not paying taxes, a population not earning enough to match the federal average and you have a tax base where the majority of people that pay income tax in Youngstown don't actually live in Youngstown... How do you fix that? What does the next mayor do?

CM: We have to continue to drive forward. We have younger people who are coming up... change your schools, change your city. We have to make certain that we improve education. If our kids aren't going on to take on Youngstown's jobs, our city is in a bind. 

JT: We need to redevelop our neighborhoods, along with schools. Neighborhoods need to be redeveloped so that younger people that want to start their lives move to the city. We need to rebuild our neighborhoods and businesses. It's something that we can do, but have not done. If we simply get out, try and negotiate with other business and try and bring them here, we can begin to fix the issue. 

TB: They need to have an all our war on jobs, that jobs are our number one priority. We need to make sure the top 100 companies in the nation know where Youngstown is. We need an economic advisory team. We have to take care of our small business owners. I know what people are going through. I'm not just talking to make sure my numbers look right, I'm talking from experience and from the heart. W3e need to make sure the lives of our citizens are improving daily. 

SM: I believe you must cross the aisle when it comes to the tax base. We must work together as one to help the citizens of Youngstown. Our corporations need to hire our citizens in Youngstown. We have to put pressure on our elected officials to help out or citizens here. We need to run towards the challenge of education. The pathway out of poverty is a good education or a trade. 

Q: In what ways do you see the opioid epidemic as different from previous drug crises? What new innovative and comprehensive approaches does the city need to take to treat the problem from both law enforcement and public health standpoint?

JT: When we had the crack epidemic it was high crime and high violence. With this, we're seeing more child neglect. As far as I'm concerned, we need to set up programs that really work. We need to direct the people that reusing to those programs early on. When we notice there is a problem with a mom or dad that is using drugs, we have to put them in rehab. We need social workers to go into those homes and see whats happening. We have to do early prevention and set up a task force on this opioid crisis. 

CM: I want to applaud the president for acknowledging the opioid crisis and allotting money so that task forces can afford to help with the problem. I think we just continue on the path we are doing and keep the pressure on the president to keep this a national issue. 

SM: We need to listen and better understand. I don't have an answer for it. Federal and state governments don't have an answer for it. The attorney generals are holding our corporations, drug agencies and doctors accountable for prescribing opiates to citizens. I agree with that process. To say I have an answer, I don't. I do believe we need to work together as one to find one.

TB: We have to be hands-on and involved. We have to reinvest in prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. My dad was an addict growing up. My mother made sure mediocracy wasn't an option. We need to make sure we are putting drugs and families together in the same equation. I'll fight for my Youngstown people. 

Q: The city plans to borrow four million dollars to work on the amphitheater project. Is this the right time for a project such as this?

CM: I think its another bad idea. Borrowing money that we do not have to put in a project we do not need. That money could be spent better somewhere else. Like in our veterans hospital. Just another bad idea. We do not need an amphitheater. The Covelli Centre isn't even being used to its full capacity. It's wasting money. 

SM: I think it is the right time. I strongly support the amphitheater. I wanted to bring the project into the city. I think its an economic engine. We can make a lot of money off of the amphitheater. We can put the money made into our general funds and use it to fix sidewalks, add streetlights and add to our parks. 

TB: I believe in economic growth and development in all projects. I was critical in the primary. I'm for anything that pushes the Youngstown economy forward. 

JT: I do believe that I wish the amphitheater could be done in phases so that it wouldn't be so expensive, but I am in favor of the project and think its something the city needs. 

Q: It's been stated that city council is expecting a budget crisis in the next couple of years... there are about 26 city employees on the payroll that the city can't afford. If elected, would you get rid of those employees?

TB: I think we come in and review all the departments, look at each individual and make sure we are not cutting city services or safety. We need to see whats going on in each department first. City government needs to work smarter. We need to be leaner, smarter and use better technology. We need to work with less to do more. 

SM: As a leader of a city, you have to make tough decisions. I would first sit down with the unions and departments heads, find out where the budget of the city of Youngstown is. See where we're spending when it comes to resources. We also need to see what new equipment is being purchased in each department. If we can wait, we will. We also need to hold department heads accountable. 

CM: As an outsider to Youngstown politics, I am able to come in and make those emotionally difficult decisions. Each department would have to make their case to me as to why they need their budget. We cannot be in the business of saving jobs, we have to be in the businesses of improving the financial well-being of our city. If 26 is the number, than 26 will have to go. 

JT: I'll look at everything before I try to eliminate jobs. After I look at all those line items, I would meet with the unions and talk with them as well, tell them what I've already done and asked what they can help do for me. 

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