LaPolla ousts Saker; Vansuch retains seat

HOWLAND – One incumbent stayed, and the other went out in the race Tuesday for two township trustees seats.

Incumbent Matthew Vansuch will continue for another term with challenger James LaPolla by his side, while incumbent James Saker and challenger Elizabeth Ward failed to make the cut, according to incomplete unofficial results.

The third time was a charm for LaPolla, 50, who has missed the mark in the last two trustee elections. He was out pulling up election signs when contacted about his victory late Tuesday.

“I’m excited. I’m pulling signs right now,” he said, “I’m very happy to have been selected for the position of Howland trustee. I appreciate the support of all my constituents. I’d like to thank my family and staff.”

LaPolla currently serves on the Howland Park Board and is founder of the Wellness Committee. Among his platform ideas were improving and enforcing zoning regulations and increasing public participation in the local government.

If elected, he said previously, he would like to hold informal meet-and-greet sessions at the township park to get a sense of the residents’ needs.

“With this vote of support I will work at my agenda to keep Howland a safe and happy place to live, a clean and safe place, and improve on what can be improved upon,” LaPolla said.

Vansuch, 33, said he looks forward to the opportunity to extend his term from 2010 and will be spending the last months of the year preparing for a smooth transition as LaPolla joins him and Trustee Richard Clark.

“I’m very happy. It was a very close race and I think voters had a lot of choices, so I’m glad to be continuing on for another four years,” he said. “We’ll have to sit down as a team and see what Mr. LaPolla’s plans are and look for an orderly transition.”

Vansuch served on the comprehensive planning committee and said the trustees will continue to use it as a guide for their decisions. Vansuch’s platform included continuing to provide quality service to residents and encouraging businesses to form in the area, especially industrial businesses.

The night didn’t end as expected for Elizabeth Ward, 57, who ran for the first time to be a trustee.

“I was hoping it would turn out differently and I certainly didn’t want to come in last, but it was very close. I’m very thankful for the people who did vote for me, certainly 1,500 (supporting votes) is not something to scoff at,” Ward said.

She has held various local positions including secretary for the Howland Community Scholarships Foundation, treasurer of the Board of Directors of Northeast Ohio Adoption Services and treasurer of the Howland Tigers booster club.

Trustee James Saker, 61, also lost in the election. He was not available for immediate comment late Tuesday.

Saker was selected by Trustees Rick Clark and Matthew Vansuch to fill a vacancy on the board in 2011 when former Trustee Sally Wehmer’s health declined.