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MAHONING COUNTY In townships, voters choose their trustees



Published: Wed, November 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Incumbents say they learned more about their constituents during their campaigns.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- John C. Cox thinks voters in this township are sick and tired of hearing about his dispute with Sam Moffie, one of his opponents in the race for township trustee.

As a result, Cox said, neither he nor Moffie received enough support from the voters to win Tuesday's election.

Business owner Kathy Miller and incumbent Thomas Costello received most of the votes in the township. Each was elected to a four-year term as trustee.

Cox, also an incumbent, came in third, receiving 18.8 percent of the vote to Miller's 23 percent and Costello's 23.4 percent.

Moffie, meanwhile, received 12 percent, coming in fifth behind Paul Shovlin. All vote totals are unofficial.

Investigation: The Ohio Elections Commission is investigating a complaint filed by Cox that alleges Moffie made "false statements" about Cox's bid for commissioner five years ago. The complaint states that Moffie had a news conference Friday and alleged that Cox accepted $12,000 from the mob during his campaign for commissioner.

On Tuesday, Cox denied Moffie's allegations and said he felt press coverage of the dispute contributed to his loss in the election.

"How many times a week can your name be put in the paper tied to mob money, with that not affecting you?" he said. "The people say, 'You know what? I'm sick of this stuff. I'm tired of this stuff. I'm looking for some leadership.' "

However, Miller said she felt coverage of the dispute had little effect on the race.

"I don't think it did anything in the last few days; maybe some people who are political junkies, they were paying attention." she said. "I was focused on what I was doing, not what they were doing."

Miller said that after she takes office Jan. 1, she plans to organize a group of local business officials to discuss plans for commerce in the township. She also said she wants to "work on aesthetics" and clean up the township's green spaces.

Costello, who has served as a trustee since 1999, added that during his upcoming term, he wants to address the community's concerns about increasing traffic and a lack of safety services. Local residents voiced those concerns during his campaign, Costello said.

Other township trustees in Mahoning County also said they learned more about their constituents during their campaigns.

In Austintown: Bo Pritchard, an Austintown trustee who was elected to a four-year term Tuesday, said he found that residents of his township have a greater understanding of home rule than he expected.

Home rule is a form of limited self-government that would allow the trustees to pass resolutions aimed at solving health, safety and sanitation problems. Township voters have defeated home rule each of the three times it has appeared on the ballot.

As a result of his campaign, Pritchard said he would support a resolution to have public hearings to discuss home rule.

Pritchard and David Ditzler, an incumbent, defeated David Williams and Mary Lou Chinchic in Tuesday's election. Both Pritchard and Ditzler were elected to four-year terms.

Pritchard currently is serving as the interim replacement for Ken Carano, a former trustee who resigned to serve as state representative. Richard Edwards, the chairman of the township zoning commission, defeated four challengers and was elected to serve the remaining two years of Carano's term.

Edwards said he doesn't plan on setting his agenda until after he is sworn in Jan. 1, and that he wants to "evaluate and listen" to his fellow trustees, township employees, and township residents.

Ditzler, meanwhile, said that he feels many of the issues talked about during the campaign are already being addressed by the current trustees. He noted that the trustees are working to improve and expand the township parks, as discussed during the campaign.

Canfield's outcome: In Canfield, one of the campaign issues the trustees have yet to address involves the lawsuit over a project to improve Gibson Road. A visiting judge recently ruled in favor of a group of Gibson Road residents who had sued the trustees to stop the project.

After the ruling, the trustees voted 2-1 to move ahead with plans to resurface the road. The lone dissenter in the vote was Judy Bayus, who was re-elected Tuesday night.

Bayus and Bill Reese defeated three challengers in the election.

Reese said he wants help "restore stability" in the township. That stability has been shaken by the dispute over Gibson Road, he said.

However, when asked about the Gibson Road project, he said, "It's going to have to be done."

Bayus did not return The Vindicator's calls to comment.

hill@vindy.com




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