Five independent Youngstown council candidates were disqualified from seeking office

3 winners in last month’s primaries to run unopposed

By David Skolnick


The number of candidates for Youngstown City Council seats got quite a bit lower after the Mahoning County Board of Elections disqualified five independents.

It also means that the winners of last month’s Democratic primaries for council seats in the 1st, 2nd and 6th wards will be unopposed in the November general election.

The board voted Tuesday to disqualify the five independent candidates and certify four of them.

Mike Write in the 1st Ward and David Starr in the 6th Ward weren’t certified because both voted in the May 7 Democratic primary.

Under state law, a candidate who votes in a partisan primary the same year they file to run as independents aren’t actually independent and are not eligible to run as such, said Joyce Kale-Pesta, the board’s director.

Incumbent Councilman Julius T. Oliver, D-1st, who beat Bryant Youngblood Jr. in last month’s primary, and Councilwoman Anita Davis, D-6th, who ran unopposed in the May primary, no longer have general election challengers.

Also, the board declined to certify the independent candidacies of Cecil Monroe in the 2nd Ward and Ronald Shadd, a Youngstown school board member, in the 3rd Ward.

Both came to the board May 6, the deadline to file as independents, with nominating petitions that didn’t have the wards in which they are running filled in on the documents, Kale-Pesta said.

The ward must be written on nominating petitions before signatures can be collected, Kale-Pesta said.

Monroe filled in the ward number at a counter at the board of elections and then turned in the petitions, while Shadd took his petitions and returned about 45 minutes to an hour later with the ward number written on his documents, said Danielle O’Neill, the board clerk who handles nominating petitions.

With Monroe out of the race, ex-Police Chief Jimmy Hughes, who won the Democratic primary, won’t have an opponent in the general election for the 2nd Ward seat.

The board certified the independent candidacy of Adrian McDowell in the 3rd Ward, and he’ll face Samantha Turner, who won last month’s Democratic primary, in the general election.

Also disqualified was Lee David Pupio as an independent candidate in the 5th Ward.

Pupio submitted nominating petitions with 26 signatures, needing 25 of them to be valid. Board employees checked his petitions four times and came up with only 22 valid signatures, Kale-Pesta said.

Pupio, who works for the city’s wastewater department, had a May 21 disciplinary hearing after the law department determined he had to either quit his job or give up his campaign because civil-service workers can’t engage in partisan political activities, including running for city council, said Dana Lantz, deputy law director.

Shortly after the hearing, Pupio submitted paperwork to retire effective July 5, Lantz said.

With Pupio not certified, the candidates for the 5th Ward seat are incumbent Councilwoman Lauren McNally, who won the Democratic primary last month, and Corrine Sanderson, a Youngstown school board member, who is an independent candidate.

The board also certified Stephen T. Lesko Jr. and Donald P. Scott as independent candidates.

Lesko will face incumbent Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, in the general election.

Scott, who retired Monday after more than 30 years on the city police force, is challenging Councilwoman Basia Adamczak, D-7th, in the November election.

Like Pupio, Scott was a civil-service employee before his retirement and would not have been permitted to keep his job and run for council. Scott attended the board of elections meeting.