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Canfield chooses judge for city manager

Judge David D'Apolito

Canfield City Council unanimously approved Wednesday hiring David D’Apolito, judge with the Ohio 7th District Court of Appeals, as its new city manager, effective Jan. 1, 2024.

Acting City Manager Chuck Colucci said it has been a long road, but the judge was put through the same background checks as all other potential candidates. Those checks included a background investigation, drug screening, physical examination, computerized voice stress analysis and a leadership assessment.

“We wanted to make sure we had the right person for the job,” Mayor Don Dragish said. “The city manager runs our town. It is a big role that we wanted to fill with the group we had, before the change [for 2024].”

Dragish will continue as mayor in 2024, and councilmen Chuck Tieche and Bruce Neff will return for a two-year term. New on council will be Christine Oliver and Mark Graham, who will serve a four-year term.

As for D’Apolito, Colucci said he would take office officially Jan. 1 and plans to step down from his role with the 7th district court. While the judge was not at the meeting, Colucci did say he informed his staff earlier Wednesday of his plans to vacate the office.

Council president John Morvay said, “We were looking for the right [person] for Canfield. I am so excited to have David D’Apolito leading our city.”

D’Apolito, originally from Canfield, resides in Poland. Dragish said the judge plans to move back to Canfield and devote himself to the new position come January.

As for Colucci, Morvay said he has done “a heck of a job” for the past year. Colucci maintained his position as police chief while managing the city at the same time.

D’Apolito was up for re-election next year and would have faced a challenge from at least two significant challenges.

Two Republicans — a sitting Columbiana County Municipal Court judge and a former Ohio Supreme Court justice — earlier this year announced plans to challenge D’Apolito in the race for judge.

Katelyn Dickey, who won the 2019 race for Columbiana County Municipal Court judge, announced plans to run. Mary DeGenaro, who served on the appeals court for 17 years before leaving in 2019 when she was appointed to the state Supreme Court, also has said she intends to seek the seat.

The appeals court has jurisdiction over Mahoning, Columbiana, Belmont, Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe and Noble counties. Mahoning is by far the most populous county in the district, and three of the four sitting judges reside there.

The 7th appellate district has become more Republican in recent years and a new law is now in place requiring all appeals court and Supreme Court candidates to identify their party affiliation on the general election ballot, creating a likely uphill battle for D’Apolito, a registered Democrat, to keep his seat as judge.

On a different issue, Colucci put out a statement regarding a discrepancy that was presented by an undisclosed Canfield resident concerning police department staff getting more than the stated 5% wage increase in the coming three years.

“The discrepancy report was inaccurate, as it did not include the aforementioned mid-term bargaining changes (presented at the meeting). The research conducted to claim a discrepancy was superficial and based upon outdated data,” Colucci said.

“The compensation in the new agreement with the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is accurate and is 5% per year. Both the mid-term baragaining sessions and the most recent collective bargaining negotiations were conducted in good faith and the process was completely transparent.”

The bargaining agreement with OPBA was ratified Oct. 4, 2023 and included the 5% increase for 2024, 2025 and 2026. The agreement also removed the fourth step in top-out pay, which is now set at three years, and members now contribute 13% of their health care cost. That is up from 12%.

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