By Ed Runyan
In the spring, when Republican Martha Yoder was running in her party’s primary for state representative for the 64th District, she said one of her goals would be to amend the consent agreement between Trumbull County and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Six months later, state Rep. Sean O’Brien, the OEPA and others gathered in Courthouse Square to announce the consent agreement had been rescinded, giving Trumbull County the same rules for septic-system regulations as the state’s 77 counties.
Yoder, a Farmington Township trustee, says the elimination of the agreement was one step. But she also wants to see another type of septic issue addressed: forced sewer tie-ins.
The Trumbull County Board of Health has said now that the consent agreement has been lifted, it “can” now allow septic owners to keep their septic systems and not tie into newly constructed sewers if they are not polluting, but “there is no guarantee they will,” Yoder said. She wants changes to Ohio law to force the health department to do it.
Yoder is running against incumbent state representative Michael O’Brien of Warren, a Democrat, who has served one term in the state House after being Warren mayor for eight years and Trumbull County commissioner and Warren councilman before that.
Yoder said Michael O’Brien has “produced a status quo of ineptitude” as “a part of the political establishment for 30 years.”
O’Brien says being in public office most of his life is worthy of praise, not condemnation.
“I decided my career would be public service,” he said. “I feel public service is an honorable profession. This is my 29th election.”
O’Brien said Warren went through tough times during the Great Recession while he was mayor, but the city avoided the kind of financial trouble that has since hit Niles.
As for the health department and septic systems, O’Brien said, “I have confidence the health department will do exactly the right thing.”
The race for state representative for the 63rd District is between McDonald Mayor Glenn Holmes, a Democrat, and Atty. Devon Stanley of Girard, a Republican. They are running to fill the seat being vacated by Sean O’Brien, who is running for state senator to replace Democrat Capri Cafaro, who is not able to run again because of term limits.
Stanley says education is a big issue for him.
“I would like to see charter schools outperform the public schools,” Stanley said. Ohio has a reputation among people in Texas he knows as being the “wild west of charter schools,” he said.
“You have to have standards that are well-known, well-publicized to weed out the [charter schools] that are failing and struggling,” Stanley said.
In addition to being the part-time McDonald mayor, Holmes also works as a substation inspector for Ohio Edison and has served as chairman of the Mahoning River Corridor Mayors’ Association and been a member of the Ohio Public Works Commission and county’s public transportation board, Trumbull Transit.
Holmes said better regulation of injection wells would be his top priority as state representative, but he also wants better oversight of charter schools and wants the return of funds in the state’s $2 billion rainy-day fund to local government.
Atty. Sean O’Brien, a Democrat, has been state representative for the 63rd District since 2010. He is running against Robert Allen, a Republican from Chardon to replace Cafaro, of Hubbard, for 32nd District state senate. The district encompasses Trumbull and Ashtabula counties and a small part of Geauga County.
Sean O’Brien said he has a reputation for forging ties with Republican leaders in Columbus and getting results. He helped secure $12.4 million in grants and zero-percent loans from the Ohio EPA for a waterline to serve Southington and West Farmington. He also helped secure money to acquire a building at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in an effort to help the Youngstown Air Reserve Station survive the next round of federal defense cuts.
He also brought top state officials to Trumbull County in 2012 to address local leaders about the gas and oil industry and some of the negative side effects of it. It was at a point where drilling was just beginning, and a 4.0-magnitude injection-induced earthquake had hit Youngstown five months earlier.
Allen, meanwhile, is running for elected office for the first time. He is a security officer at Kent State University’s Geauga campus.
Allen says improving roads and bridges are a priority for him because those items affect whether businesses will create jobs.