Youngstown mayor, opponent disagree on downtown amphitheater plans

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – At a candidates’ forum Monday night, incumbent Youngstown Mayor John McNally and his opponent, former council president Jamael Tito Brown, had the opportunity to go head-to-head. One of the things they disagree on is the plan to build an amphitheater downtown.

With the May primary just five weeks away, the Community Mobilization Coalition at New Bethel Baptist Church in Youngstown hosted a public forum for candidates running for city office. Each candidate had three minutes to introduce themselves and explain their policy.

While not specifically mentioned during the forum, McNally and Brown have differing views when it comes to the amphitheater project next to the Market Street Bridge.

“I just want to make sure we’re not spending funds we don’t have,” Brown said.

On Friday, he released a statement outlining his concern about the major project. He said it’s too much too soon and too expensive.

Brown is worried about a $4 million federal loan the city plans to take out to partially pay for the project. That money, he says, may not be there with President Trump’s recent budget cuts.

“I thought it would be a proactive move to say, ‘Let’s stop and find out what he’s going to cut,'” Brown said.

McNally said he is not worried about the funding for this project and that he’s dealing with what’s in front of him.

“I think some folks are skittish that the federal government is actually going to listen to the budget requests of the current president, which I don’t think is the case.”

Brown ran against McNally in 2013 and lost by 142 votes. He said his main focus this time around will be finding jobs.

McNally touted his record of quality of life improvement over the past four years.

Panelists and audience members who attended the forum asked questions and candidates had two minutes to respond.

The heroin epidemic came up, as well as the hiring of minority workers and bringing a supermarket back to Youngstown.

“It takes all sides of town working together and it takes leadership representing all sides of town,” Brown said.

Brown also made several comments about McNally’s federal charges from the Oakhill corruption case. McNally responded by saying they had nothing to do with the election at hand and that it’s time to move forward.

Voting for the primary will be May 2.