MAHONING COUNTY Engler: 'I'm not getting back into politics'
He stressed that the position he's running for is a nonpartisan, almost voluntary spot.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
BOARDMAN -- David Engler turned some heads when he decided to run for a seat on the Mahoning County Educational Service Center board two years after he walked away from the county commissioner's office and ended his political career.
But Engler said don't read too much into his decision to seek an unexpired two-year term on the county board.
"I'm not getting back into politics," he said. "This is it. I won't run for judge, commissioner, Congress or any other office. I'm unequivocally saying that."
Engler of Canfield said he does not plan to actively campaign for the seat and would not be crushed if he is defeated in the Nov. 6 election by James E. "Ted" Roberts of Poland, who holds the unexpired seat on the board and is the only other person running for the spot.
"If Ted Roberts wins, that's great; he's a nice man," Engler said.
Nonpartisan position: Engler stressed that the board position is a nonpartisan, almost voluntary spot and he is not using it as a springboard back into the political scene.
"People told me there might be a spot on the board and would I consider running for it," he said. "I told them I'd run as long as people understand I'm not getting back into politics. This is not an adversarial race. There will be no news conferences or anything like that."
Roberts, appointed to the board in November, said he was not aware of anyone running for the spot until Engler's petitions were submitted to the board of elections around the 4 p.m. Thursday filing deadline.
On June 21, 1999, Engler announced he was resigning as county commissioner, effective at the end of July, with about 18 months left in his second term. Engler, who is also a former two-term Youngstown councilman, was replaced as commissioner by Edward Reese. Michael Morley, his close friend and political ally, announced the same day that he was resigning as county Democratic chairman.
Rumor mill: Since then, rumors have swirled around Engler, a former local political powerhouse who had aspirations to run for state office, and his possible re-entry into politics. When Engler was looking at purchasing a house in Youngstown earlier this year, there was talk that he was doing so to run for mayor. When he looked at a home in Boardman, the conversation turned to Boardman trustee.
"It's amusing more than anything else," Engler said of the rumors. "I'd categorize them as amusing. Even during my political career, people gave me too much credit politically for the influence I had. The rumor of my influence was greater than my actual influence."
Engler admits he has only attended one educational service center board meeting and that was when he was a commissioner. But Engler said he has a great deal of interest in education and between his experiences as a county commissioner, lawyer and owner of a technology firm, he has the credentials to run for the seat.
Roberts is a lawyer who represents a number of local school districts, is president of the Mahoning County Bar Association and a former U.S. government teacher in Youngstown.
Although this is a nonpartisan race and political affiliations are not included on ballots for this position, Engler is a well-known Democrat and Roberts is a prominent local Republican.