YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A surprise decision came at Wednesday’s Youngstown City Council meeting to remove 3rd Ward councilwoman Samantha Turner as the chair of two committees.
Turner said she never saw it coming, that she was blindsided by her colleagues who wanted her removed.
Toward the end of the regular council meeting, a motion for a recess was made. During that recess, a discussion was held in a conference room where the recommendation was made to remove Turner as health committee chair and parks committee chair.
“On the health committee, I’d like to see Lauren McNally as the chairperson and Mike Ray as vice chair and Samantha Turner as a committee member,” said 6th Ward councilwoman Anita Davis.
The recommendation was followed up with a question.
“Why, what’s happening?” Turner asked.
Davis explained she felt 5th Ward councilwoman McNally was a better chairperson, and McNally accepted.
Davis went on to the parks committee, saying she would like to be nominated as the chairperson with McNally as vice chair. Turner didn’t agree.
“We’ve done a lot in the parks committee in the last three years, as the chairperson and doing a lot in the parks committee,” Turner said.
McNally went on to explain that several parks committee meetings were held more like public hearings, and she questioned the legality of it.
“I actually had to get a legal opinion about it and I shared that with the committee, but it stopped for a minute and it continued on. So I’m not comfortable coming to those meetings where they’re being held like public meetings and not committee meetings,” McNally said.
Davis stated she also sought a legal opinion on how the meetings were being conducted.
“This is way too close to being a public hearing without the entire public being brought into it,” Davis said. “That’s what has happened and continues to happen. I did not attend yesterday’s meeting because I had concerns about it.”
Turner disagreed and stated she was conducting the meetings properly and legally.
“It is important to me to have our community partners at our parks meetings as well as our block watch captains at our parks meetings because they keep our parks sustainable. They work in our parks every day — they do a lot of work, sometimes in some places more than we do as the city,” Turner said.
She continued, “So it’s important that they are sitting at the table when we are having these conversations. We’re not making changes in these meetings. We’re just hearing their input on the work that we’re doing and moving items forward.”
After the standing committee agreed to reorganize the committees’ roles, Turner made the decision to remain on the health committee but to remove herself as a member of the parks committee.
“So it’s a little hurtful but it’s completely fine because before I was a councilperson I was doing the work and I’m still going to do the work,” Turner said.
She continued, “For them not to say anything and to have a cock and bull story today about we’re running them illegally. We’ve had more parks meetings in the last three years than they had in the first four years of their terms.”
The recommendations then went to council for a vote. In the end, city council voted to oust Turner as the chairperson in both committees, with only Turner and councilman Jimmy Hughes voting against it. The vote was 5-2.
In the end, Davis was appointed as the parks committee’s chairperson and McNally was appointed chairperson for the health committee.