Dropout leaves race in Newton Falls uncontested
5 vie for 3 seats on council
NEWTON FALLS — What originally was six candidates now is five seeking to fill three spots on Newton Falls village council.
Two candidates each are seeking spots in the village’s 1st and 3rd wards, while one candidate is running for the at-Large council seat.
Originally, Councilman-at-Large Brian Kropp, who was appointed by Mayor Ken Kline to the position in July and then resigned in October, was being challenged by Julie Stimpert, who now sits on the Newton Falls Board of Education. With Kropp withdrawing, Stimpert is unopposed for the seat.
First Ward Councilman Adam Zimmerman is being challenged by Mike Serotko and Third Ward Councilwoman Tesa Spletzer is being challenged by Charles Homa.
Zimmerman, who has lived in the village for 19 years, said he was appointed by council to fill the unexpired term of former councilman Zachary Svette. He is marking is first time running for elected office.
He said he believes with council working together, the village can move in the right direction. He said he wants to see council come together for the betterment of the community. Zimmerman said while each ward has its own projects, council can work together on projects that affect the entire village.
Zimmerman said he wants to address accountability of elected officials and village administration.
“It seems now that anyone can make any statement that they want to and not be accountable for what they have said. I am 100 percent accountable for the words that I say, and I expect nothing less from everyone else. True accountability for everything that is said will go a long way to re-establishing trust between council and the great people that live within the village and surrounding township,” Zimmerman said.
He said he also would focus on development of “green spaces” throughout the village. Zimmerman said with two branches of the Mahoning River flowing through the village, canoe / kayak access can go on the east branch near Commerce Park and also off Sixth Street on the west.
He said he wants to see the rivers used more by the public and also wants to develop the state Route 5 corridor.
“Newton Falls does not have much room within village limits for the growth of business and industry. But we do have everything necessary to facilitate that growth. The real estate along Route 5 is primed to spur the growth necessary for our village. The previous administration has laid the groundwork to start development. We need to build on what was started,” he said.
Zimmerman is a trustee on the Newton Falls Joint Fire District.
Serotko, a retired police officer, said he wants council to get back to a time like after the May 1985 tornado where everyone worked together.
“The community came together and worked with one another. It is time to get back to the way things were before. There is too much chaos,” he said.
Serotko said he will focus on working for the community.
“I will work for the people and focus on what they want. There has been a problem with officials just working for themselves,” he said. “We need to focus on cooperation, not only in the village but also with Braceville and Newton Township. It upsets me with the views some people have of Newton Falls. There is a sign on Route 5 that says ‘Boycott Newton Falls,’ which bothers me.”
He said he will focus on street paving and improvements in the 1st Ward.
Serotko, who is marking his first time running for office, said he is tired of watching “the shenanigans on council.”
Serotko said he was born and raised in Newton Falls and graduated in 1978. He is a retired police officer and dispatcher and said he will have the time to spend serving the community.
Stimpert, who is finishing her term on the school board, is seeking a village council seat.
“I wanted to help make a difference for the village. The schools are moving in a good direction with projects that need done and have been done,” she said.
Stimpert, a Howland intervention specialist teacher, said she originally was appointed in January 2020 to the board of education and is completing her first term.
She said she is in the final phase of completing a master’s degree in educational leadership and will graduate in next spring.
“I will represent the citizens of 44444 with integrity and professionalism. I will be an active listener and ask the hard questions to ensure my vote represents the best interest of Newton Falls and all of its residents,” she said.
Stimpert said she is qualified to lead in a positive solution-driven manner.
“I want to see Newton Falls preserve and improve our infrastructure as well as move toward positive economic growth,” she said, indicating she will abide by the Newton Falls charter, employee handbook, Ohio Revised Code and Professional Code of Ethics.
In addition to being on the school board, Stimpert also is on the Trumbull County Foster Adoptive Parent Association, has been Foster Adoptive Kinship Advisory Council chairperson since 2012 and FASTeam — Foster Adoptive Support Team — since 2012.
Stephanie Penrose, director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections, said with Kropp resigning, it will indicate on the ballot the candidate has withdrawn.
“No votes given to him will count,” she said.
Mayor Ken Kline said because there are only four regular meetings left for the rest of the year, they will not replace Kropp and wait for the election results.
He said the time it would take to seek applicants for the remainder of the term that ends Dec. 31 and then make an appointment would not be worth of the time.
Spletzer, who began serving on council in late 2020 after winning the 3rd Ward seat from Lyle Waddell in that election, said when running previously she wants to bring transparency to the local government.
Spletzer was a candidate when Mark Stimpert stepped down in August 2019 to become the village zoning director. When the 3rd Ward seat opened, Waddell stepped down as mayor to fill the seat, leading to questions about the council’s charter and its rules on term limits. Before stepping down, Waddell served nearly two terms as mayor — the term limit.
That situation prompted Spletzer to run, indicating she wanted to see a charter review, among other things.
Spletzer served in the Army and was deployed in Desert Storm, and also was a teacher in the Newton Falls school district.
Neither Spletzer nor Homa returned Tribune Chronicle candidate questionnaires, nor returned phone calls seeking comments on their goals for the Third Ward.