Officeholders must possess diplomacy skills

Despite its quaint small-town character and neighborly residents, political fission has remained prevalent in Newton Falls for decades.

The village’s former Mayor Patrick Layshock, who now is running for village council as a write-in candidate in the Nov. 7 election, announced this week he is seeking to have village Councilman John Baryak and Mayor Lyle Waddell removed from office.

This is the latest recall attempt that happens way more in Newton Falls than in most other local communities, where it happens next to never. Layshock was recalled as mayor in 2010, and the vacancy was filled by Waddell. Baryak also was recalled years ago, before eventually being re-elected to council.

Layshock says he wants Baryak and Waddell recalled because he is disappointed with their performance. He says they aren’t doing things as required, including not conducting the bi-annual employment evaluations of City Manager Jack Haney according to his employment contract. Layshock says the last employment review happened in 2010.

Further, Layshock says council is failing to establish goals, is financially irresponsible and is nonresponsive to the concerns of the village, citizens and with the community center.

Layshock believes council should follow economic development and property use plans spelled out by the village’s comprehensive plan. As a member of the village’s Historic Preservation Foundation, Layshock also has been fighting an ongoing battle to reopen and renovate the Newton Falls Community Center, built in 1942 as a United States Organizational Center, or USO. Council, so far, has refused, citing costs for upgrade and renovation.

Arguably, Layshock has made some tenable points. Council should conduct employment reviews required by employee contracts. And if an up-to-date comprehensive plan exists, it would be worth following.

As for the community center, we believe council members have openly and repeatedly reviewed the matter, and have made a decision that may be unpopular with some, but isn’t that often a reality in government?

As a citizen, Layshock has every right to voice his opinion and call for matters to be corrected. But wouldn’t it be more logical to find ways to bring these issues to light and then call for appropriate action? And if that doesn’t happen to a constituent’s satisfaction, then publicly oppose re-election attempts at the end of the terms of the elected officials.

Why, in this little river town, does dissatisfaction with elected officials immediately trigger attempts to remove them from office mid-term? The action reeks of divisiveness and a lack of diplomacy skills we see as a crucial characteristic of elected officials. That’s why it is impossible for us to endorse Layshock in his election bid.

Admittedly, incumbent Tarry Alberini has some shortcomings. For example, he freely acknowledges in his four years on council he has never even read the village’s comprehensive plan. That’s a problem. Still, we know that during his tenure, council has made some good decisions and appears to be moving in a good direction, despite budget cuts brought about by the state and the voters. We believe Alberini deserves another term, and we hope Layshock finds a way to cooperate with village officials and debate with diplomacy, whether he wins election or not.