Candidate calling for engineer to step aside

WARREN – A woman running for the Republican nomination for county commissioner in May is demanding that Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith step aside temporarily while he’s being investigated by the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Patricia Hale Paridon, of McDonald, also wants Commissioner Frank Fuda, who’s in a contested race for the Democratic nod, to join her.

That happening is unlikely.

”She can play her political games all she wants,” Fuda said Thursday. ”There is an investigation going on. Commissioners will allow the investigators to do the investigation.

”The county commissioners work together and we make those decisions as a body,” Fuda said. ”We don’t work individually. We’ve been doing that ever since I’ve been elected. There is no one commissioner that is going to make those kinds of decisions.”

Smith deferred comment to his attorney, Subodh Chandra, who called Paridon’s request a ”desperate and defamatory cry for attention.”

”Engineer Smith is fully cooperating with the investigation and is confident, as am I, that once all the facts are known, both the investigators and the public will understand that there is no violation of the public trust,” Chandra said.

Paridon, who is supporting Fuda’s primary election challenger, Lisha Pompili-Baumiller of Hubbard, said those were the ”expected” responses ”to the truth.”

”Commissioner Fuda understands that the ethics charges against Smith are fatal. Now is the time to show leadership, not only to the citizens of Trumbull County, but to the job producers in the private sector that no corruption will be tolerated,” Paridon wrote in a news release.

Smith has not been charged with a crime.

The Ohio Ethics Commission, helped by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, searched the Engineer’s Office April 4 as part of what appears to be an ethics probe. Some of the information sought, according to the affidavit, dealt with a potential business association between Smith and a former top aide of his at the office, Donald Barzak; Smith’s role in the regulatory compliance and oversight of oil and gas companies operating on Trumbull County roads; and private work Smith did for the Trumbull County Health Board while being in office as engineer.