The new mayor brings experience on city council to his position.
HUBBARD — Richard Keenan acknowledged the challenges the city faces but he’s willing to take them on for a variety of reasons.
He was sworn in as mayor by Judge Michael Bernard of Girard Municipal Court during a ceremony Tuesday night in city council chambers.
“I care about this town,” the 59-year-old mayor said. “I’m pulled to hear the heart of the people.” He noted he did just that when he served as representative from the 4th Ward, often sitting in people’s homes listening to their concerns.
Keenan, who lives on Moore Street, also is no stranger to city government, so he’s not starting from scratch when it comes to experience. He served on city council in the early and late 1990s. He will serve out former Mayor Arthur Magee’s term until the end of 2011. Magee retired Dec. 12 because of health reasons.
Keenan also worked as a probation officer in Girard Municipal Court in the mid-1990s. He noted that service also will prove valuable. In Hubbard, there is a mayor’s court.
“It will take a little time to get up to speed,” he said. Keenan said council is working on the projected budget.
“There’s less funds to work with ... there are people in town not working. These are tough times,” Keenan said.
The new mayor said Hubbard had been fortunate because it had the funds to operate and had savings as well. “We don’t have extra resources any more,” he said. The tough economy has contributed to a change. “We’re like so many other communities ... we’re struggling,” he said.
But Keenan said “we want to stay out of fiscal emergency.” He also noted that Hubbard is not unique in facing financial problems.
Keenan said he realizes residents wonder if city services will be cut because of finances. “We will have to make adjustments,” he said. “We want to protect our services ... we have great workers.”
Keenan said one example of adjustment is the leaf collection in the city. “We may cut the time frame to retain the service,” he said.
Keenan said the opportunity for government service should make officials want to do their best. “It’s not about me ... it’s about serving the people,” he said.
Keenan also brings another element to the office. “I’m a Christian. Dedicating my life to Jesus has changed my life,” he said. “Don’t preach it, but live it” is a practice he takes to heart. That idea is wrapped up in wanting the best for his town.
Keenan admitted he had pondered the “what ifs” before the 11 Trumbull County Democratic Party precinct committee members met Dec. 29 to vote on Magee’s successor. And he shared his interest in serving as mayor with others. “I wondered about running,” he said. Circumstances presented this opportunity. Also nominated were Dan Livingston, a 1st Ward councilman from 1995-99, and George Praznik, the mayor from 1995-2003 and former councilman.
Since 1999, Keenan has worked as a car inspector for CSX Railroad in New Castle, Pa.; he previously worked at P&LE Railroad in Struthers. He and his wife, the former Diana Shodd, are Hubbard natives. They have three daughters and three grandchildren.