Niles mayor faces ex-service director in Democratic race

NILES — Incumbent Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz will face former Niles City Service Director Jimmy DePasquale in the May 7 Democratic primary.

Mientkiewicz, 35, who served as 2nd Ward councilman for several years before being appointed mayor in August, said he was active in establishing the recovery plan that brought the city out of fiscal emergency. He said the key is planning ahead, and it is now expected that all department heads make strategic plans.

He said he wants to be transparent and honest about what’s going on in city administration. He has encouraged use of the Nixle alert system and other platforms to keep residents informed.

DePasquale, 64, said during his time as service director, he was instrumental in establishing the impound lot, which now helps fund the purchase of new equipment for the police department. He would like to expand safety forces to include an outpost at the Eastwood Mall, he said.

He said he also would like to annex more businesses into the city of Niles, especially those that use city utilities. He said the last time the city annexed property was Eastwood Field in 1995.

DePasquale’s main goals include the improvement of infrastructure and strengthening city safety forces. He said the city needs to be more aggressive in seeking grants for infrastructure improvements.

However, Mientkiewicz said the city can only be as aggressive as money in the bank allows, as many grants require matching funds from the city. Still, he also wants to seek as many grants as possible. He said to do that, it’s important to establish an active relationship with the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

Mientkiewicz is running on a platform of continued fiscal responsibility — which was his main goal when he was first elected as a city councilman — re-investment in the city and blight removal.

Mientkiewicz said political stability is vital in bringing businesses to the area.

“When businesses saw political games, there was a dark cloud hanging over Niles,” he said. “That dark cloud is being lifted.”

Mientkiewicz narrowly won a 6-5 precinct committeeman appointment in August to take over the unexpired term of former Mayor Thomas Scarnecchia, who retired for health reasons. Previously, he worked in various teaching and coaching positions for the Niles City School District, Youngstown City School District, Champion Local School District and Youngstown State University.

Mientkiewicz said he got involved with local politics because he was starting a family and wanted to help build up the community where his family lived.

“I’m a young fresh face, who is in it for the right reasons,” he said.

DePasquale served as service director under Scarnecchia from 2016 to 2017. He was terminated for what he called a difference of opinion with Scarnecchia. DePasquale said he felt Scarnecchia was trying to break up unions, which he opposed.

He unsuccessfully ran for a council-at-Large seat in November 2017.

From 1973 to 2003, DePasquale worked for the city of Niles as a laborer, foreman, operator, inspector and then project manager. He said his work allowed him to get to know every aspect of the city.

“I consider my experience with the city as my degree,” DePasquale said. “This is the best time for experience. I don’t think we should be experimenting.”

A third candidate, George Kuriatnyk, announced via social media last week that he is withdrawing from the race. He has not officially withdrawn with the Trumbull County Board of Elections.