Given the city of Struthers' sound financial condition and the absence of any major issues relative to the operation of government, it should not be difficult for voters to decide whom to support in the May 8 primary election for council president and the three council-at-large seats. The incumbents have every right to share in the credit for the good things that are happening in Struthers.
But this is not a normal election, given the FBI's presence in the community. As The Vindicator reported in March, a federal grand jury in Cleveland has been looking into contracts the city had with at least two contractors over the past decade. FBI agents have interviewed former and current city officials and have specifically asked questions about Councilman Robert D. Carcelli, D-at large, and his brother, Ron, the city's street foreman.
Robert Carcelli acknowledged to Vindicator reporters that he is a target of the probe, but he subsequently told members of the newspaper's editorial board that he is willing to take a lie-detector test to prove that he had no involvement in the contracts the federal government is reviewing.
Is this reason enough for the voters of Struthers to reject a veteran lawmaker who has a solid understanding of city government's operation, having served in council for two decades?
Voter support: We have discussed that question at length. Given the information currently available about the federal probe, Carcelli deserves the support of the voters in next week's election.
Likewise, the two other councilmen-at-large, Dexter Hollen and Ronald Matthews, have also earned renomination in the Democratic primary. Like Carcelli, they have contributed to Struthers' economic stability -- the city ended last year with a $477,000 budget surplus -- and have a vision of what needs to be done in the area of job-creation.
Former 1st Ward Councilman Jerry Shields is running for one of the council-at-large seats, and while he knows the city well, we are hard-pressed to endorse him over any of the three incumbents.
Orenic vs. Thomas: In the race for council president, Michael Orenic, who has held the position since 1980, is challenged by Councilman Danny Thomas, D-1st. After four years as a lawmaker, Thomas believes he is ready for the bigger job.
We don't share Thomas' opinion. He contends that because of his close working relationship with Mayor Daniel Mamula, he would be a more effective president of council.
But we aren't convinced that what Struthers needs is the executive and legislative branches marching in lockstep. Checks and balance aren't a bad thing in governance.