Youngstown mayor makes his first cabinet appointment: Limbian as law director

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

In the weeks leading to his first day as mayor, Jamael Tito Brown said he planned to have as many department heads as possible hired when he took office.

Brown officially became mayor Monday but didn’t hire his first department head until Tuesday, when he named Jeff Limbian as his law director. Limbian served as the city’s law director and prosecutor during the 1990s.

“The goal was to hire people by Jan. 1, but I’m not going to rush,” Brown said. “I want to have the top-quality candidates there. Until then, all department heads are staying [at least] on an interim basis. We’ll interview and evaluate every department head, and then I’ll make my final decisions.”

Brown said he plans to make some hires in the next week or two and would “like to have everyone in by the end of the month.”

He next expects to hire a water commissioner. Four people applied for the job including Harry L. Johnson III, current commissioner.

Brown, a Democrat, said he has excellent candidates to choose from to join his incoming Cabinet, and that his transition team is conducting interviews with top applicants with him to choose eight department heads.

Brown received applications from people wanting to serve as law director, buildings and grounds commissioner, public works deputy director, city prosecutor, police chief, fire chief, water commissioner and parks and recreation director.

All but Fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr., who is retiring in September or October, applied by the Dec. 11 deadline to keep their jobs.

Since then, Robert Burke, the parks and recreation director, resigned and took his name out of the running for the position. Burke accepted a job as parks and recreation director for Niles.

Brown also asked for applications for finance director but received none. The mayor said he and his transition team had already planned to conduct a national search before no one applied because of the city’s financial problems.

The city is projected to have a deficit of $2.5 million to $3 million in its general fund by the end of this year.

A national search for a finance director “will take some time,” said Brown, who declined to put a time frame on it.

Brown said he’s been in touch with head-hunting firms to help with that search.

Brown had said numerous times he had no interest in keeping David Bozanich as finance director. Bozanich is the unnamed city official mentioned in an indictment against downtown property developer Dominic Marchionda alleged to have taken a $25,000 bribe, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. Bozanich hasn’t been charged.

Deputy Finance Director Kyle Miasek is serving as finance director on an interim basis while the national search is ongoing.

Also, in the next couple of weeks, Brown plans to hire an “executive on loan,” who he described as a retired auditor who would “look at our finances and evaluate where we are.”

Brown will attend his first city council meeting as mayor today. Brown is a former council president and 3rd Ward councilman.

INAUGURAL BALL

Meanwhile, Brown is having an inaugural charity ball Jan. 27 at Stambaugh Auditorium’s Tyler Grand Ballroom.

The formal-attire event starts at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 each. Proceeds will go to local charities.

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