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Patton’s absence revealing

Friday, April 15, 2011

On the side

GOP political director: The Mahoning County Republican Party has hired Donovan O’Neil of Austintown as its political director.

O’Neil, 23, will work with other party leaders on candidate recruitment, volunteer activities, fundraising efforts and increasing the party’s visibility.

O’Neil, who is also the Mahoning County Young Republicans president and a member of the county party’s executive committee, will work about 20 hours a week to start as political director with the expectation that he’ll put in more time starting in the summer.

The party has had people, most notably Tracey Monroe-Winbush of Youngstown, handle operations at its headquarters during election season. But O’Neil, a recent Youngstown State University graduate, is the first person to serve in this capacity for the party in about eight years.

Democrats gather: The North County Democrats will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the VFW Hall in Struthers to endorse candidates and to vote on a merger with the Democrats of the 17th and 6th Districts. If the vote is approved, the combined group would be call the Mahoning County Democrat Club.

There used to be an organization with the same name that folded in the early 1970s.

Most of the candidates running in next month’s primary for Youngstown council’s 4th and 5th wards met with The Vindicator’s editorial board this week seeking the newspaper’s endorsement.

It’s the right of every candidate who is asked to meet with the newspaper’s editorial board to accept or decline the invitation.

There are plenty of times when candidates come unprepared for endorsement interviews that it probably would be better for them to stay away.

Of the four Youngstown council candidates who didn’t respond to our invitations, three of them have little chance of winning so it came as little surprise that they declined to speak with us.

It’s the other member of the foursome that is somewhat curious.

Sylvester D. Patton, a 5th Ward candidate with a decent shot of winning the race, ignored, accepted and then rejected the newspaper’s invitation.

Unlike the other three, Patton has legitimate credentials.

Patton is a former four-term state House representative. He serves as Mahoning County Democratic Party’s vice chairman of minority affairs.

He’s also serves on the state Unemployment Compensation Review Board in Columbus, a $73,000-a-year political patronage job he received in 2007 courtesy of then-Gov. Ted Strickland. Patton splits time during the week between Youngstown and Columbus.

The newspaper mailed a candidate questionnaire to Patton’s home.

When I didn’t hear from him, I left a number of voicemails at Patton’s home without a response.

I then left a message on his cellphone.

Patton responded to that cell call with a voicemail to me, but didn’t return the numerous follow-up messages I left on his home phone number’s answering machine.

I finally spoke to him late last week on his cell and we scheduled an endorsement meeting for him this week.

Several messages

He said he didn’t know anything about the several messages I left for him at his home. That makes me question if Patton isn’t home often enough to return messages left there or does he just not bother to check?

Then over the weekend. Patton called my voicemail stating he had changed his mind and wouldn’t be seeking the newspaper’s endorsement. He didn’t leave a reason.

So why did he decline the offer?

Maybe he just doesn’t care about the newspaper’s endorsement.

Perhaps he doesn’t want to get into a discussion with the editorial board about how could he effectively represent his ward while spending about half of the week in Columbus. While he has only one more year left at the state job, Patton would be traveling about 165 miles each way for work while serving as a city council member.