Moliterno out of the race

WARREN – The man who surfaced as possibly the next executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority, interim or otherwise, said Tuesday he has taken himself out of the race for the vacant Trumbull County commissioner seat.

John Moliterno, an at-large councilman in Girard and former president of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, was considered by some to be among the top of the 11 candidates wanting to succeed the late Commissioner Paul Heltzel.

Moliterno said the executive director’s position is a ”good fit and a good opportunity” for him, more so than commissioner, because ”they need to have someone in place that knows the players of the Valley, that understands how the Valley works and has a history with the port authority, which I do.”

He served as board chairman when the port authority was created by Trumbull and Mahoning counties in 1992.

”I believe in what the port authority was chartered to do. It needs to be more an an umbrella agency, it needs to be able to work with all the economic development agencies in the Valley … help put deals together to bring jobs to this area,” said Moliterno.

But he admits he’s “rolling the dice” on the port authority position – whether it will be short-term while board members do an expanded search to fill the position or whether he’s even offered the job at all.

The port authority when it meets today is expected to consider Moliterno, or at least discuss the position that has been vacant since mid-January.

First reported by the Tribune Chronicle, board chairman Ron Klingle said ”there is a chance” the board could consider Moliterno, who said Tuesday that he is ”interested” in taking the position on an ”interim basis,” which would allow the board to do a larger search if they chose to.

Moliterno said he’s suggested to Klingle and other members of the port authority board to ”do what you feel you need to do,” which includes conducting an expanded search.

”I would encourage the board to look at all the options they have available to them to put the best person in that job,” said Moliterno, president of Pegasus Printing Group.

Moving on installing an executive director, though, caused Mahoning County commissioner Dave Ditzler to threaten to move on severing funding the county provides to operate the port authority. On Tuesday, Ditzler said, commissioners ”probably will pull the funding . . . regardless,” when they meet Thursday because of this and other issues involving the port authority.

Commissioners from Trumbull and Mahoning counties each appoint four members to the board, which is now down to five members due to resignations this year, largely caused by turmoil on the board. There have been discussions between both sets of commissioners of dissolving the board due to division among its members.

The board, which oversees the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and some area economic development activity, has been without an executive director since Rose Ann DeLeon left in mid-January because of issues with her health.