Expanding tax base priority for Canfield mayoral candidates
By Billy Ludt
Expanding the tax base without imposing extra taxes on citizens is a shared priority for the two candidates in Canfield’s mayoral race in the Nov. 7 election.
City council President Don Dragish Jr. and Richard Duffett, former naval officer and lifelong resident of Canfield, are vying for the seat.
It’s possible that every position in Canfield city leadership will be filled with a new cast of people due to two-year term limits and a maximum of three consecutive terms, imposed by a charter amendment passed in 2013.
Mayor Bernie Kosar Sr. isn’t seeking to retain his seat, all city council positions are open and city Manager Joe Warino is retiring.
Both Duffett and Dragish said expanding the tax base without raising taxes for residents could be achieved through bringing new businesses to the city.
Dragish played a role in the first Joint Economic Development District between the township and city for a Windsor House location, 6445 state Route 446, during his time on city council and said he wants to bring similar businesses to the city.
“The bottom line for Canfield is there’s been turnover,” Dragish said. Locally invested businesses such as Windsor House, he said, are ideal for keeping people in the community and earning substantial wages, unlike corporations such as some national big-box stores. “If you market Canfield correctly, you can get the right businesses here.”
Duffett pointed to the city’s green, one of the few places where a cluster of businesses reside within its jurisdiction, as a potential point of development. He mentioned creating incentives to draw businesses to the city.
Duffett recently worked with Kosar and Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican, to apply for a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in the city.
A member of Dragish’s local Rotary, an organization he joined shortly after moving to Canfield six years ago, persuaded him to run for city council. Dragish ran unopposed in 2013 and said he initially had no desire to be involved in politics. He was elected council president in 2015.
Four years later, he hopes to retain a position with Canfield city government and continue with long-term projects he’s been involved with during his time on city council.
In the event of new members of council, Dragish said he wants to ensure the city’s current plan stays on track and “outlasts us if we aren’t here.”
Duffett previously ran for Republican precinct committeeman in 2002 and lost. Days before announcing his candidacy in that race, police found a small amount of marijuana and two pipes in his vehicle, according to Vindicator files.
In a story The Vindicator reported on his announcement to run for mayor in this year’s election, Duffett noted that the incident was 15 years ago and said: “I’m focused on moving forward. I’ve got a great relationship with the city, the schools, and I intend to forge one with the township as well.”
While he has not held public office before, Duffett said his previous work experience and time as a naval officer placed him in demanding leadership roles.
“This will not be the hardest job I’ve ever had,” he said.