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Rimedio-Righetti must handle commissioner’s job with care

Published: Wed, October 13, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

Mahoning County voters made it clear in the May primary election that they are ready for a change when they gave the Democratic nomination for county commissioner to Carol Rimedio-Righetti.

While voting to renew a critical half-cent county sales tax, county voters also took the opportunity to assure that there would be at least one new face on the board of commissioners. Rimedio-Righetti defeated three-term commission David Ludt, who himself had been the beneficiary of voters caught up in a mood for change 12 years ago.

In her campaigns last spring and this fall, Rimedio-Righetti has been questioning the need and cost effectiveness of a county administrator. The job is now held by George Tablack, who also functions as the county’s budget director. Tablack, a former county auditor, has as firm a grasp on county finances in general, and Mahoning County’s in particular, as anyone you’re likely to meet. If Rimedio-Righetti has a concrete plan for how the county could function better without him than with him, she hasn’t laid it out. Vague observations about how the county could be better run by three full-time commissioners than three commissioners and an administrator don’t inspire confidence.

Still, Rimedio-Righetti certainly gives the impression of someone who is ready to work as a full-time commissioner and to push her agenda.

Among her areas of interest and goals are these:

Moving ahead on the long-stalled consolidation of the 911 emergency call system,

Pursuing economic development opportunities.

Advertising broadly, even nationwide, for a new head of the office of Job and Family Services.

Moving ahead on the development of Oakhill Renaissance Place, the former South Side hospital complex that is already home to several county offices.

Rimedio-Righetti has been a past critic of the Oakhill purchase, but said the other day, “Oakhill is ours now; we have to make it work.”

This paper has long supported the Oakhillbecause it offered enough space to allow consolidation of various county offices, especially the coroner’s office, which had access to the old hospital morgue. Also, allowing a complex that sits on the edge of the downtown business district to fall into vacancy and deterioration would have been a travesty.

Experienced politician

Rimedio-Righetti, Youngstown’s Fourth Ward councilman for eight years, is an experienced politician. She says she has a track record of being about to bring people together and get things done.

Certainly there is no shortage of things to be done by a county commissioner, and in endorsing her election of Nov. 2, The Vindicator trusts that she’ll work harder at bringing people together than building a coalition designed to run people over.

Rimedio-Righetti’s election certainly promises some changes will be made in the way things are done at the Courthouse. We’re hoping, though, for constructive change, not change for the sake of change, and that she does her homework after getting into office and before moving to dismantle some things.

Rimedio-Righetti’s opponent in the general election, Don Manning, did not avail himself of the opportunity to attend an endorsement interview with the editorial board.

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