Mayoral candidate to stress teamwork, financial stability and investments in neighborhoods
The mayor’s chief of staff is vying for the city’s top position this November. DeMaine Kitchen says his success in city hall makes him the right person to lead Youngstown. The independent mayoral candidate sat down with News Outlet reporter, Andrew Donofrio and discussed his platform.
Kitchen’s campaign will stress teamwork. His message: there’s no “I” in Youngstown.
We’re going to put the “You” back in Youngstown because Youngstown begins with you. We’re going back to the basics where the government was for the people, of the people, and by the people and meeting their needs.
Blight, crime and disheartened families Kitchen witnessed as a kid growing up on the city’s East Side inspired his career in politics.
I got involved on city council because I was kind of frustrated with how my neighborhood was. People dumping all kind of trash and garbage, blight, disinvestment –that motivated me.
For too long, Kitchen says, Youngstown neighborhoods have crumbled under the weight of neglect.
There’s been a huge disinvestment in our neighborhoods. We’ve invested in industrial parks, in technology, incubators, but we’ve not really invested in our neighborhoods the way we should have, and that’s why our population continues to decline.
Kitchen plans to encourage population stability by keeping strong partnerships with neighborhood groups.
It takes the people to actually create momentum where they live. I live on the East Side. I can’t go on the South Side and tell those people what I think they need. I need to partner with them and help them meet the goals for their communities.
As far as which of Youngstown’s issues to address first, Kitchen points to the city’s looming financial deficits and population woes.
In eight years, I would like to see the population stable. I would like to see the city finances stable. You know, we’re facing a five-year, projected, $25 million deficit. There won’t be any neighborhoods, if we don’t address that deficit. We won’t be able to deliver basic services.
Kitchen says the downtown must be expanded in every direction, and that Youngstown must become an attraction like a Pittsburgh, or Columbus or Cleveland.
I envision expanding, particularly, along the Mahoning River. I know we have some friends of the Mahoning River. I would love to partner with them and create a boardwalk from Covelli Center down to the B&O [Station], and have a walkable, pedestrian, green space.
If elected, Kitchen wants his staff to rub elbows with the people their work affects.
I plan to have staff meetings in the neighborhoods from time to time. Not all the time. But, every now and again—maybe on a quarterly basis—I want the people in city hall to see who they’re making decisions for.
Reporting for TheNewsOutlet.org, I’m Andrew Donofrio.