Voter turnout, race to decide mayoral outcome in Youngstown

Race will play an important role in this year’s election for Youngstown mayor. Joyce Kale-Pesta is the director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections. She expects the city’s Fifth Ward will play a deciding factor in the outcome. She spoke with Andrew Donofrio.

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Unless voter turnout is higher than expected, Joyce Kale-Pesta, the director of the Mahoning County Board of elections, said the Youngstown mayoral election will come down to the city's Fifth Ward. (Andrew Donofrio/TheNewsOutlet.org)

Unless voter turnout is higher than expected, Joyce Kale-Pesta, the director of the Mahoning County Board of elections, said the Youngstown mayoral election will come down to the city’s Fifth Ward. (Andrew Donofrio/TheNewsOutlet.org)

Voting is the only instrument we have to change things. People in foreign countries, they fight for the right to vote. They’ll die for the right to vote. They’ll stand in line for five or 10 hours for the right to vote. We take it for granted and we don’t use it the way we should.

Kale-Pesta says people often lose sight of the importance of local politics and put  their eggs in the federal basket when it comes to voting.

It’s surprising how the people only get excited in their presidential election. Sometimes they come and they only vote for President. They don’t vote for anybody else on the ticket and that’s the sadness of it. 

Citing the city’s Fifth Ward as a possible battleground for votes, she believes race will play a major factor in the outcome of the election.

This election is going to be racially motivated. I mean it’s just a matter of the way the wards in the city is broken up. And, that’s a sad thing, but that’s the reality of it. I think the Second and Third Wards will go for Tito. McNally will have the Fourth and Seventh, part of the Fifth. Tito will have part of the Fifth. So, I think it depends on voter turnout.

Kale-Pesta adds that the party endorsement forces Brown to work harder than McNally.

If the committeemen who voted for John McNally work their precincts and get the vote out for him and, and, truly get his ideas pushed, I think he has a better shot than Tito. I think that Tito will have to work a little harder without the endorsement.

Though she expects McNally to hold an advantage, Kale-Pesta says she’s confident in Brown and McNally’s abilities to run the city. In Smith’s case, she’s not sure he’s ready.

They both are experience and qualified. I think either one of them will do a good job. I like Mr. Smith. I think his heart is in the absolute right place, but I don’t think he’s got the wherewithal to run the city of Youngstown.  

In Kale-Pesta’s experience, the disheartening part of local elections is that the people who say they want change the most tend to stay home rather than cast a ballot.

Either the people that are angry don’t go and vote, the people that really want change don’t vote and the people that are behind the candidate do. So, what they have, they one instrument they have to change things, they don’t use. They don’t vote.

For our next segment, we’ll sit down with Thomas Humphries, president of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. For TheNewsOutlet.org, I’m Andrew Donofrio.

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