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Cercone Miller elected Struthers mayor

First woman elected mayor of city in Mahoning County

STRUTHERS — She grabbed a commanding lead when early vote totals were released and Catherine Cercone Miller extended the margin through election night to secure a resounding mayoral win in her debut election.

The victory marks the first time ever in Mahoning County a woman was elected mayor of a city.

“A lot of people were saying I was making ‘herstory’, but this is just a new beginning to our story in Struthers,” said Cercone Miller on Tuesday night.

Cercone Miller, a Democrat, took a 60 percent to 40 percent lead over independent Robert D. Carcelli and lengthened the distance to win 75 percent to 25 percent over the former longtime councilman, according to incomplete, unofficial results from the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

“That is amazing,” said Cercone Miller, 36. “I just don’t want to be the first woman for the job, I want to be the right woman, the right person for the job. The residents of Struthers don’t see gender, race … they just see people for who they are. Our city knows me and they know my heart.”

The campaign was testy at times. Both candidates said a vote for the other would damage the city with Cercone Miller saying Carcelli’s old way of thinking was bad for Struthers’ future, and Carcelli saying she was too inexperienced to be mayor.

Carcelli was upset with the loss.

“But the people spoke. I hope they realize that they elected a person with no experience, never sat on city council one day, never dealt with a city budget, and I think in the upcoming times we are facing as a community we are in trouble,” he said.

Cercone Miller said running a clean campaign is what secured her victory.

The seat is being vacated by Terry Stocker, who’s finishing his 12th year as mayor. He chose not to seek re-election.

Cercone Miller of Brandon Avenue has worked as the city prosecutor’s secretary since July 2014. Before that, she worked for about five years at St. Michael’s Harbour in Hermitage, Pa., a nonprofit organization that assists adults with autism, primarily as its development coordinator. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Capital University in Columbus in psychology and art therapy, and is a Struthers High School graduate.

This is her first time running for elected office. She defeated Councilman Michael Patrick, D-at large, in the Democratic primary, receiving 71 percent of the vote.

Carcelli of Edison Street is retired from the Laborers International Union of North America Local 125 as secretary / treasurer and field representative. The Struthers High School graduate was first elected as a 2nd Ward councilman in 1973, serving six years. He was elected in the mid-1980s as a councilman-at-large, serving for 16 years. During those 22 years, he served as chairman of council’s finance and legislative committee. He also was elected council president in 2003, losing re-election two years later. He ran as a Democrat for 2nd Ward and at-large and as an independent for council president.

rselak@tribtoday.com