By any measure, Austin- town Township is doing well in an economic climate that is uncertain at best.
The three trustees, Kenneth Carano, Jim Davis and Richard Stauffer, have successfully steered township government through some choppy waters.
The loss of more than $2 million in state and federal funding has forced Carano, Davis and Stauffer to make tough decisions. They haven’t avoided such responsibility.
It, therefore, would stand to reason that the re-election of the two trustees, Carano and Davis, in the Nov. 7 general election would be a no-brainer.
It is – in the case of Carano.
The retired, longtime Austintown Fitch High School teacher and former state legislator and employee receives our endorsement for another four-year term.
Regretfully, we are unable to support Davis in his re-election bid. This has nothing to do with his performance in office, but rather his personal finances.
The Vindicator Editorial Board has had a long-standing policy of not endorsing candidates for public office who owe taxes. Indeed, we believe such nonpayment disqualifies an individual from serving in the public sector, which depends on tax revenue to operate.
Davis admitted at the start of his Editorial Board endorsement meeting he owes income taxes for three different years. His admission came without prompting from us. He also conceded he was familiar with The Vindicator’s policy.
As we have noted, our decision not to endorse him is not a reflection of our dissatisfaction with the job he has done as trustee.
Thus, we leave it up to the voters to decide if we have taken too hard a position against him.
The three trustees have accomplished much, given the challenges all local governments are facing today.
Carano, Davis and Stauffer went through the $18 million operating budget with a fine-tooth comb and reduced it to $16 million. They did so by implementing some basic cost-saving measures, such as limiting overtime and taking over contract negotiations with the labor unions. In the past, the township hired outside advisers and negotiators to handle the talks.
The trustees also have forged alliances with neighboring communities.
Austintown, Boardman and Canfield have joined forces for road-paving projects and the purchase of salt.
Austintown and Boardman spent $1.8 million on a 911 telephone emergency system and brought in the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.
The consolidation has resulted in savings to both communities in jobs and overtime.
The road-paving initiative is interesting because for $500,000 Austintown was able to resurface 6 miles of road. Without the partnership with Boardman and Canfield, Austintown would have been able to repave only 5 miles.
Officials in the three communities were able to negotiate a lower per-mile cost because of the total number of miles resurfaced.
The budget cuts made by Carano, Davis and Stauffer have put Austintown on a firm footing. However, the future is uncertain, at best, which is why stability in government is essential.
The re-election of Carano, who first served as a trustee in the late 1990s and then returned in 2014 will ensure such stability.
Davis is seeking a third, four-year term,
The incumbents are facing three challengers on Nov. 7: Dawn Blinsky, Matt Schriner and John H. Mashiska.
Schriner and Mashiska did not respond to The Vindicator’s invitation to meet with the Editorial Board and, thus, are not eligible for our endorsement.
Blinsky, who ran for township clerk in 1996 and works for a pain- management company, threw us for a loop when she said Carano has done a “fantastic job.” She is running against Davis because township government needs a “newer voice” and residents need “someone to talk to.”
The challenger did not make a strong enough case for our backing.
Hence, we endorse Carano for another four-year term, and withhold our support for Davis.