By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Tony Fire has served almost two terms as 1st Ward councilman but insists that he’s not through giving back to the city — and to the ward he has always called home.
Fire is running again for the council seat and said he’s hopeful that the “invaluable” experience gained during those two terms will sway voters toward electing him to another.
“Nobody has a classroom for this. You find out through trial and error,” said Fire, 70, of Sells Avenue. “I’m not now seeking any other position. I don’t want any other position. All I want to do is help the 1st Ward.”
Challenging Fire is Richard DeLuca, 59, of Wilhelm Street.
DeLuca, who grew up in Campbell, has lived in Struthers about 20 years, and said he’s noticed a gradual decline of the 1st Ward during that time. For example, both the property maintenance and police presence in the 1st Ward could be better, he said.
“It seems like we don’t have what we did when we first moved in here,” DeLuca said. “I just think I could do a better job of representing the people.”
Though DeLuca hasn’t held office previously within the city, he added that he’s familiar with the people and councils of Struthers, along with those of Campbell and Lowellville, through years spent working in the environmental field.
DeLuca owns an environmental-consulting business and is vice chairman and fiscal officer of the Mahoning County Soil and Water Conservation District. He also was previously employed as superintendent of the wastewater treatment plant in Campbell, as well as water-pollution control manager in Struthers.
He said this experience would help him, if elected, to further develop “regional opportunities,” or joint ventures, among the three communities, such as the shared purchasing of expensive equipment.
DeLuca also explained the need to bring more businesses — and subsequently, jobs — into the city, which he said could become a reality only after continued infrastructure development. Right now, companies interested in moving to the area must contend with obstacles such as a lack of sewer or water lines or even electricity.
“There’s a lot of dressing around the area,” DeLuca said. “But there’s no real ‘meat and potatoes.’”
Fire, who retired in 2007 as a supervisor at Delphi Packard Electric, maintains that several improvements have been made to the 1st Ward, particularly since he first was elected to the council seat.
Many of those improvements have been beautification efforts concentrated in the city’s downtown, such as the painting of a mural depicting past and present landmarks and the hanging of flower baskets. Others, such as the demolition of more than 20 blighted homes in the 1st Ward, have been focused on making neighborhoods cleaner and safer.
If he’s re-elected, he said he’d like to continue that work and also the presence of the 1st Ward Block Watch group, which he began during his first term as a city councilman. The creation of the group has been one of his proudest accomplishments.
“I made several campaign promises, and I believe in keeping them. I will return everybody’s call as fast as I can, and make myself available 24/7,” Fire said. “If you add up the hours and pay, it’s 25 or 50 cents an hour, but I’m not doing it for the money or anything else. I just enjoy being in the 1st Ward.”