Youngstown Mayor John McNally pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors on Friday. The prosecutor that negotiated the plea deal allowed McNally to remain in office. Considering he was initially charged with 18 felonies, he got off rather light.
Dave Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, is calling for the mayor’s resignation. Others in the party, including three council members and the city’s law director, expressed relief that the case was behind them, and the mayor can remain in office.
None of the mayor’s supporters seem concerned about having someone in charge of the city who admitted to committing acts of corruption while holding an elected office. Perhaps that’s because this is business as usual for Youngstown.
From the legendarily corrupt Congressman Jim Traficant to more recent examples of former County Treasurer Lisa Antonini, her predecessor John Reardon, former State Rep. Ronald Gerberry and McNally’s co-defendant former County Auditor Michael Sciortino, criminal convictions among Democratic politicians is de rigueur.
Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, said in a comment to the Vindicator about McNally’s plea that this is just another black eye delivered to the Mahoning Valley by the Democratic Party.
Sure, he is motivated by self interest, but he’s not wrong. Perhaps this is the inevitable result of having one party dominate local politics. Without an opposition to keep you in check, it’s easy for things to get out of hand. It seems that voters are beginning to agree. Ralph Meacham, Sciortino’s replacement as Mahoning County auditor, was the first Republican elected to countywide office in 30 years.
So while we laud Betras’s call for McNally to step down, it is just the latest in a long line of transgressions. Retroactive requests for resignation are not enough; Betras needs to address the source of the problem. Why does his party continually support candidates who can’t complete a term in office without committing a crime? If he can’t figure that out, maybe he needs to step down too.
As for McNally, The Jambar has enjoyed a good relationship with the mayor. We believe he has done a lot of good for the city during his time in office. But if the city truly wants to progress, it needs to stop harboring criminals in city hall. An attitude of, “but this one is a really good guy,” just helps perpetuate the area’s negative reputation.
It’s bad enough that he committed a crime while in office, we don’t need to keep him there now that it’s been confirmed.
Misdemeanor or felony, corruption is corruption.
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