What the city of Warren needs at this time in its history is strong, stable leadership, and only one of the five candidates for mayor in the Democratic primary has a record of service that offers that.
The candidates are: Frederick Harris, 59, the director of public safety and service: Patricia Leon-Games, 55, the Warren treasurer from 1990 to 2001 who is now a volunteers for senior citizens; Manuel Michelakis, 63, the city's retired director of water utilities; James L. Nutt, 52, a retired firefighter who served as interim fire chief for seven months before retiring, and Michael J. O'Brien, 47, a former Warren city council member who has been a Trumbull County commissioner since 1993.
There is no incumbent, Mayor Hank Angelo having decided not to seek a third term.
O'Brien is the clear choice in the primary. In addition to holding elective office, the Youngstown State University graduate worked as a Juvenile Court councilor and probation officer.
In 10 years as a county commissioner he has been in a position to lead and he has been in a position to have to work with two other commissioners who were sometimes in an alliance of their own. He has adapted, demonstrating an ability to compromise when possible and to stand alone when necessary.
In recent years, he has worked hard to get various groups of county employees and officeholders to work toward consistent employment policies and uniform employee co-pays for health coverage, something with which Mahoning County commissioners have grappled, with only limited success.
A combination that works
None of the other candidates has the combination of education, experience and know-how that shows up in O'Brien's resume.
Harris shows true passion for the job. He would consolidate department heads and reorganize departments, freeze salaries and confront a police chief whom he describes as an "old-timer." But the penchant he has shown in the past for being unnecessarily confrontational would make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to accomplish his goals. Leon-Games showed during her tenure as treasurer that she can't get results working within the system. Michelakis and Nutt are former city employees who would like to run the show, but neither demonstrated a vision for the city during interviews with the editorial board.
O'Brien says his administration would not only provide essential services such as police and fire protection, street maintenance and parks, but pursue economic development projects for the city.
Warren voters should given O'Brien the opportunity to show that he can deliver on that. If he perform as well as mayor as he has in other areas of public service for more than 20 years, he will.