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Drama fills Youngstown mayor's race; Popular leader's widow vies with incumbent

Village residents have some choices make at the polls Tuesday, when five people seek three seats on the Village Board.

The race for one of those seats -- mayor -- holds much of the drama.

Democratic Mayor Raleigh Reynolds, head of the village government since former Mayor Neil Riordan died last September, will face Riordan's widow, Dorothy "Dotty" Riordan, a Democrat backed by the Republicans who is well-known for her working partnership with her late husband, one of Youngstown's most popular mayors.

Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. in the Red Brick Municipal Building, 240 Lockport St.

Reynolds, also long active in community affairs, was appointed by his colleagues last fall to fill the mayor's post until Tuesday's election, which is for the remaining two years of Riordan's unexpired term. Reynolds joined the board four years ago and had served as deputy mayor for the year prior to his mayoral appointment.

"The main reason I chose to run for mayor is the same reason I ran for the trustee position: to give something back to the community I live in," said Reynolds, 65.

"I was surprised to hear Dotty was running, but anyone has the right to run for any position," he said.

Dotty Riordan said that through 45 years of marriage, she and her husband had a strong, working partnership, which gives her the knowledge she needs to take the reins of village government, even though she's never run for a government office before. Neil Riordan was elected mayor in 2001, having served on the board since 1979.

"We worked as a team," said Riordan, 66. "With all of the traveling Neil did with work, I was his eyes and ears here and kept him apprised of everything."

Riordan said she was approached last fall to consider a run at the village's top job.

"People were telling me I should do this and it was very encouraging," she said, although she admitted it's "a little awkward" to run against her late husband's deputy.

Riordan said, "Neil and I co-chaired many community events together. We worked on the Imagine Youngstown project [with Niagara University], the North Docks enhancement, the annual Community Picnic together. He'd ask me 'What do you think?' and let me loose.

"I have the knowledge and the history," she said. "I've got the time, energy and vision. I know all of Neil's business contacts. I know I can help the village. Rebuilding the business district was next on his agenda. I know about maintaining roads and sewers. I want to maintain our quality of life."

Riordan, a Youngstown native, has served on the Town of Porter's Historical Society for the past couple of years and retired from the Niagara Pioneer Soccer League after two decades of service.

Reynolds has worked in information technology for the past 27 years. He is currently a senior field services technician for Hewlett-Packard, which is under contract with Delphi Thermal Systems in Lockport.

He joined the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Company two decades ago and has served as president, vice president, first assistant chief and as a lieutenant and captain in emergency medical services. He is currently a firefighter and emergency medical technician and was co-chairman of the company's Field Days last year.

Reynolds and his wife, Linda, made Youngstown their home nearly 40 years ago and have two sons and six grandchildren.

The Corry, Pa., native became familiar with the area while serving with the Army at the former Nike anti-aircraft missile base in Lewiston. He spent a year in Vietnam before being discharged as a sergeant, and he and his wife decided to permanently settle in this area, where he was elected to the Lewiston-Porter School Board, coached sports and served as a Cub Scout leader.

A Democrat in a largely Republican community, Reynolds prefers to keep politics out of the conversation.

"For the most part, people want to do what's best for the village and it usually doesn't matter if they're Democrat or Republican," he noted.

As a case in point, Neil Riordan, a Republican, appointed Democrat Reynolds his deputy.

"I knew Neil and liked and respected him and looked forward to working alongside him for many years," he said. "But it didn't work out that way. And I felt it was my responsibility to step up and take this position [when Riordan died] and continue on in the way that Neil had run the village. My biggest challenge was to hold things together, so that people didn't notice any gaps. I think that was the biggest tribute I could give Neil. And I think that so far, we've accomplished that.

"One of the biggest issues we face is the tax situation, with the economy the way it is," he said. "How do you continue to provide or increase the level of services and at the same time keep tight control of taxes? People are hurting, and we need to take this into account and be creative in how we approach this job."

Among the projects he'd like to see accomplished in the near future is the conversion of the former Youngstown Cold Storage site into senior apartments. A proposal is currently before the board.

In addition to the mayoral race, three candidates are vying for two four-year trustee seats Tuesday, including incumbent Steven Suitor and newcomers Tim Lockhart and Jack W. Bush Jr.

Suitor, 30, is the sole Democrat running for re-election to a post he first earned four years ago. The Youngstown native is a licensed customs broker and software developer.

Lockhart, 58, is backed by the Republican and Democratic parties. He retired in 2010 after 33 years with the Town of Lewiston, including the past 18 as administrator and chief operator of the town's Water Pollution Control Center. He has an associate degree in environmental science.

Bush is backed by the Republicans. He and his wife, Janice, have two grown children and three grandchildren and moved to Youngstown six years ago from the LaSalle area, although he is a Lewiston native.

Bush, 64, retired last year from Calspan Corp., as chief flight mechanic and hangar chief for the company's flight hanger in Niagara Falls, after a 28-year career. He earned his technical degree from the Pittsburgh School of Aeronautics.