Trustees expressed dissatisfaction with the township's congressional representation.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- David Ditzler has announced he won't seek re-election as Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman this year and will support Lisa Antonini of Austintown to succeed him in that post.
Ditzler, who is also Austintown trustee board chairman, made the announcement at Monday evening's trustee meeting. He said he was fulfilling a statement he made when he became party chairman three years ago that he wouldn't seek re-election as chairman if he were re-elected as a trustee. Ditzler was re-elected as a trustee last fall.
"My commitment and my heart and my love for working with the community in Austintown is much greater than working with politicians," he said. However, he added, "I think we have a core group of elected officials that are second to none in the state of Ohio and I'm proud to serve with them and work alongside of them."
"It has nothing to do with my being disappointed from the party's standpoint. It's just from a time standpoint, my love is in Austintown and working with the community as a trustee, and it's just too time-consuming to do both," he said.
Antonini, who was director of operations for the party from 1994-98, now serves as a deputy clerk in the Mahoning County Treasurer's Office. Ditzler said he knew of no others who have expressed an interest in the party chair position. The county's approximately 400 Democratic precinct committee member will meet within 60 days after the May primary to elect the new party chairman.
Dissatisfaction: Trustees expressed dissatisfaction with the township's congressional representation.
Trustee Bo Pritchard, former Mahoning County Republican Party chairman, said the community would have been better served if U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. had resigned, and, if exonerated, would run again for Congress. "Serving while this is all taking place is not service to us," he said, referring to the congressman's current federal racketeering trial in Cleveland.
Trustee Richard Edwards lamented that Traficant's troubles have caused Austintown to be divided between two congressional districts -- the new 17th District that extends all the way to Akron, and the new 12-county 6th District that runs along the Ohio River, after redistricting based on the 2000 Census.
"It's ridiculous. Who do you go to make a request to in the future?," Edwards asked, saying he's "most upset" that some township residents will almost live closer to Washington than to the other end of their district.
"The folks in Columbus didn't think that there was any other way to get rid of Jim Traficant," Pritchard replied.
Ditzler criticized Traficant for never showing up at Mahoning County Township Association meetings over a two-year period during which he was invited. Ditzler added that he has found U.S Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lucasville, much more accessible than Traficant. "I probably have been able to talk to Congressman Strickland in the last two weeks more times and collectively for longer periods than I have in 10 years representing Austintown with our current congressman," he said.
He also lamented that Austintown will be split this year between two new Ohio House of Representatives districts. "It's appalling to have to work in that manner and not know who you're going to have to work in conjunction with to try to get something done," he said.