WARREN Challenger upsets councilwoman for seat in 6th Ward
The lone Republican candidate failed in her quest for an at-large seat.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- Allegations of police brutality and city cover-ups will be the first items on the agenda for James A. Pugh when he takes his seat on city council next year.
Pugh, former six-year president of the Warren-Trumbull County NAACP, defeated Helen Rucker by 15 percent to represent Warren's 6th Ward. It was the only upset by a challenger of a sitting Warren council member in Tuesday's general election.
"I had a dynamic group of volunteers behind me, and we got the word out," said Pugh. "The citizens heard what I had to say."
At-large seats: In the hotly contested race for three council-at-large seats, Republican Niki Frenchko-Nagy was edged out by Gary Fonce and incumbents Robert Marchese and Daniel Polivka.
"Everybody ran a good race, I can say that," said Polivka, the vote leader with 28 percent.
"I'm just relieved," said Gary Fonce, who beat out Frenchko-Nagy by only 1 percent in the four-way race. Fonce said his campaign was hindered by the death of his father in September and a more recent knee injury, which prevented him from going door to door.
The victorious councilmen will be starting the new term with a wide range of agendas. For Pugh, the most pressing need is to examine seven allegations of police brutality, which he has been alerted to in the past few months. "There has been an epidemic," he said. "This definitely has to be examined quickly."
He said he also wants to look into the city's involvement in programs including Sunshine Homes, community development loans and the East Market Street project.
Fonce said he will be most concerned with promoting fiscal responsibility, looking for uncollected income tax money and promoting long-range planning. "As a city, we need to stop going year to year," he said. "We need to start planning ahead two years, five years."
Happy return: Marchese said he is grateful to return to city council, where he has held a seat for 10 years.
"Council needs to pull together and take the lead," said Marchese, who came in second in the at-large race with 25 percent of the vote. "I hope with my experience I will be able to offer that." He also said he wants council to work with other cities, including Youngstown, to lure more jobs to the area.
In the 7th Ward, incumbent Susan Hartman successfully fended off a challenge by Tina Williams-Brandon, who ran as an independent.