Three vie for single seat on Liberty trustee board
By Robert Guttersohn
A first-time candidate and a former 12-year Liberty trustee are hoping to oust incumbent Trustee Jodi Stoyak in Tuesday’s election.
Former Trustee Jack Simon, 57, and Rachel Hill, 60, criticized the way in which the current administration allocated grants, built sidewalks and upgraded lighting systems rather than focusing on infrastructure.
“The current administration lacks experience and leadership,” Simon said, referring to Stoyak as a one-issue trustee.
“Whatever [the trustees] are doing now just isn’t working,” Hill said.
Stoyak and I “look at the job in two different directions,” Simon said. “She viewed beautification as first. It gets to the point where enough is enough, and we need to put our efforts toward paving and infrastructure.”
Hill referred to the sidewalks along Belmont Avenue as the “sidewalks to nowhere.”
“I’m not just about flowers,” said Stoyak, 57, who has been a trustee for eight years.
She claimed she was a major proponent for making the township home rule in 2006, which allowed zoning to enforce stricter ordinances. Stoyak brought in speakers to the township to speak on gas wells and worked with others in the township to obtain grants for infrastructure repair. For example, Stoyak said a $310,000 grant paid for the resurfacing of Goldie Road and Fifth Avenue.
Candidates also talked about how to draw businesses to the township’s main commercial strip, Belmont Avenue.
Stoyak said there are several businesses still looking to move to Belmont.
Simon said in order to keep businesses popping up along the avenue, he would work closely with real-estate agents who attract retail business.
Both Simon and Stoyak said they would push for fire consolidation with Girard and creating a fire district between the two municipalities.
“Girard is a tough cookie to crack,” Simon said. “Girard never wants to hear anything ... unless it is based in Girard.”
Hill said her biggest concern was crime in Liberty, particularly along the shared southern border with Youngstown.
“The trustees are not responding adequately to the crime situation,” Hill said.
She felt the police force, which is now 15 police officers, is too small.
Simon said the department should focus more on the hiring of patrolman to replace some of the brass.
And both he and Stoyak believed in utilizing zoning ordinances to ensure landlords keep their property up to standard.
Stoyak said crime is not climbing, and the budget will not allow them to increase the police ranks.
“Money dictates what you can provide,” she said. “We’re managing fine. This board that’s working together right now is very concerned with how to do more with less money.”