City Council race lacks incumbent

WARREN – For the first time in years, there is no incumbent running in the city’s 1st Ward.

Councilman Fiore Dippolito decided against running for re-election. Three candidates filed to run for the Democratic primary on Tuesday: local businesswoman Felicia Davis; longtime precinct committee representative Larry Larson; and community activist Clyde Wilson.

No Republicans filed for the primary.

Davis said the issues that she cares about are making sure the city streets are paved and maintained, the city is both welcoming to new businesses and helpful to existing ones, and responding to the concerns of neighborhood residents.

“We have to find ways to attract new businesses into the city,” Davis said. “We have to use our resources to spur economic development, including selling water and expanding our sewer system.

“If we can bring new jobs in the community, we will expand our tax base, enabling the city to maintain our roads and other services.”

One way to attract new businesses is to provide tax incentives and utility discounts for businesses looking to relocated in the city, she said.

“I would like to see the position of equal employment office reinstated in the city,” she said. “That person can make sure that area residents are given opportunities for jobs.

Also, “I am very concerned about break-ins and crime in the 1st Ward,” Davis said. “I’ve experienced it. Someone broke into my house. As a councilwoman, I would work closely with the police department to curb crime in the neighborhoods.”

Davis served four years active and three years in the Navy reserves. She worked for 17 years with United Healthcare before the company downsized in 2010, which encouraged her to open Felicia Davis Agency, an independent insurance agency. She is the founder of the Dress for Success in the Warren and Youngstown regions.

This is Davis’ second run for the 1st Ward council seat. She lost to Dippolito in the 2011 general election.

Her husband, Robert Davis, is the director of the Water Department, and a son, Corey, works in the Water Pollution Control Department.

Larson, 62, a General Motors retiree, has lived in Warren since his family moved here when he was 4 years old.

“I love this city,” Larson said. “I love my neighborhood. I’ve lived in my home for more than 33 years. I don’t like it when people talk bad about the city. It is no worse than other communities. I will fight to defend it.”

He is married and has raised six children in Warren. Larson has been a precinct committee member for more than 20 years. He also is a member of Northwest Neighborhood Association, the Warren Strategic Planning committee and the Trumbull County Senior Advisory Board.

“We have streets within this ward that are very nice, well-kept and are maintained by the home owners,” Larson said. “We have other streets that are blighted need a lot of help because they have abandoned houses and need clean-ups.”

Larson is critical of people running for office who say they want to create jobs.

“As local elected officials, we do not have the power to create jobs,” Larson said. “We can improve the environment that helps to attract businesses, but we do not create jobs.”

Larson, for example, says the city must do whatever it can to save he Parkman Road corridor, which includes the Trumbull Plaza.

“It is the only business district coming into the 1st Ward,” Larson said. “I’ve heard that the Kmart may be considering moving from the plaza. If we lose Kmart, the plaza could turn into the Austin Village Plaza on Market Street. We don’t want that to happen.”

Larson supports Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Association’s plan to place a $12.9 million senior housing complex on the land next to the plaza.

“I know there are some people that are against the complex,” he said. “They are scared the apartments will be for low-income and Section 8 residents, but Don Emerson (executive director of TMHA) said they would not, and I’m taking his word. If doesn’t keep his word, then he’ll never get anything from the city again.

“We can’t do things that will drive contractors and developers away,” Larson said. “No one has shown interest in developing that land.”

Larson personally went to see a similar complex to the one being proposed on Parkman Road.

“We should not depend on government to do everything for us,” Larson said. “We should not wait for someone else to do something that we can do ourselves.”

Larson was one of the critics to a proposed ordinance that would have allowed the city to hire an outside firm to monitor police calls and fine households and businesses that had a large volume of false alarms.

“We should not create new ordinances when we are not enforcing already existing ones,” he said. “Sometimes you have to use common sense.”

Larson never thought he would run for a city council seat.

“This is the first time in a long time that the 1st Ward seat has become available without an incumbent,” he said. “We always had Ray Bagaglia, Virginia Bufano and Fiore Dippolito. I never thought I needed to run.

“I’ve always figured I could complain about a problem or do something about it,” he said. “I’m not a person to sit back and wait for others. I don’t talk about doing things. I just do them.”

Wilson could not be reached for comment. He previously ran for the 1st Ward council seat and for a seat on Warren Board of Education.