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STRUTHERS 2 vacant council seats to be filled



Published: Mon, May 14, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The candidates who won last week's Democratic primary are expected to be appointed to the vacant seats.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

STRUTHERS -- Struthers Democratic precinct committee members will meet next Monday to appoint a new city council president and 1st Ward councilman.

Danny Thomas Jr., council president-elect, says he has the backing of at least a majority of the city's 15 precinct committee members to be elected next week.

Thomas is so confident he'll be named that he resigned his position as 1st Ward councilman Saturday. That will allow the five 1st Ward precinct committee members to select Anthony R. Protopapa Jr., who won last week's Democratic primary for that ward seat, to fill that spot at the same meeting.

Waiting period: Appointments to vacant council seats in non-chartered cities such as Struthers cannot be made any earlier than five days after a resignation, according to state law.

"It is in the best interests of the city to do it this way," Thomas said. "We might as well make it as orderly as possible."

Protopapa is expected to have no problem getting the council seat because he and Thomas are two of the five 1st Ward precinct committee members. Also, Thomas said he has been lining up support for himself and Protopapa the past few days with precinct committee members.

Protopapa faces Republican William Sicafuse in the Nov. 6 general election. Thomas has no opposition in November.

President resigned: Thomas defeated nine-term council President Michael Orenic in a bitter Democratic primary battle last week. Orenic was so upset by the defeat that he resigned the next day. His term does not expire until Dec. 31.

City officials first thought that Councilman Terry Stocker, D-4th and president pro tempore, would automatically move up to president with the Orenic resignation. But further research showed that Democratic precinct committee members make the selection.

Ohio Revised Code says in the case of a council president vacancy, "the county central committee of the political party with which the last occupant of the office was affiliated, acting through its members who reside in the city where the vacancy occurs, shall appoint a person to hold the office and to perform the duties thereof" until an officer-elect's term begins.

The same rule applies for ward council positions.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. next Monday in Struthers City Hall.

Mahoning County Democratic Chairman David Ditzler said he expects Thomas and Protopapa to be named by the precinct committee members.

"They have been elected by the people of Struthers," he said.

Ditzler is sending letters to city precinct committee members Tuesday about next week's meeting.




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