Residents in Niles face more changes

It’s unfortunate that the duly elected mayor in Trumbull County’s second largest city felt it necessary to step down this week.

Thomas Scarnecchia took over as mayor in 2016, but on Monday made a sudden announcement only halfway through his four-year term that he was stepping down, effective immediately.

That’s too bad for the city that already has been shaken by challenges taxpayers in a community should never have to face. That includes things like decades of misconduct by longtime former Mayor Ralph Infante, convicted last month on corruption and theft in office and who now is incarcerated in Ohio’s Lorain Correctional Institution. That black eye was coupled by a state-imposed fiscal emergency situation that the voters helped bail out with passage of an emergency income tax increase around the same time Scarnecchia was starting his term in office. Also, after years of neglect, some city buildings, including the fire station and city hall, have fallen into expensive disrepair. And all that is not even including a financially strapped and struggling school district.

Still, the residents in Niles have remained resilient, and under leadership by Scarnecchia, a state-appointed fiscal oversight commission and city council, the city has slowly been seeing improvements in its fiscal outlook.

Now residents will be led, at least in the interim, by council president-turned-interim Mayor Barry Steffey Jr. Steffey has proven to be an effective councilman and council president, and we suspect he will continue to lead the city down the road to recovery, at least in the short term.

Next month, Democratic precinct committee members elected by Niles voters will decide who should hold the mayoral post for the remainder of Scarnecchia’s term.

We urge strong leaders with knowledge of city finances and management skills to step up to seek the job.

Likewise, we urge residents to continue to hold the soon-to-be elected mayor’s feet to the fire when it comes to making good decisions on things like spending and hiring. After the trial and conviction of Infante, residents certainly have seen first-hand what can happen when they don’t.