In Niles, select three incumbents

Democrats in Niles should vote to endorse incumbent at-large councilmen Stephen Papalas, Michael Lastic and Reginald Giancola in the May primary. They are being challenged by school board member Christopher Doutt.

The incumbents have been proactively addressing financial issues using attrition to take the city payroll from about 200 employees in 2008 to about 175 today. They have also called for a state performance audit to help them determine where Niles can operate more efficiently and in the mean time they have supported a slowdown in capital improvement projects.

Doutt, meanwhile, after just one year on the school board seems too ready to bail out now that Niles Schools are dealing with a barrage of bad news – including a state performance audit that shows millions of dollars in inefficiency and two school levies that the community seems to view with disdain. Doutt, during his campaign for school board, advocated large spending increases on employee wages and benefits.

Here’s what else we like about Papalas, Lastic and Giancola:

Papalas sees value in using the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber to help Niles with business attraction and recognizes the lack of progress at the Western Reserve Port Authority, which the city previously supported financially for economic development.

Giancola expressed confidence in the city’s ability to save money through state performance audit recommendations rather than rely on increases in taxes or utility rates.

Lastic is ready to apply cost saving measures in Niles Municipal Court, which drains hundreds of thousands of dollars per year from the city budget.

Early voting already began for the May 7 primary.