Greathouse gets nod for Warren ward

Warren 3rd Ward council candidate Greg Greathouse’s calls for cost-cutting measures to help head off future renewal of the 0.5 percent city income tax are both logical and possible.

The five-year tax, which took effect January 2017, is set to expire Dec. 31, 2021.

While that’s still more than two years away, Greathouse knows the importance of being proactive now or face imminent renewal efforts in the future.

That’s why he already has begun exploring cost-cutting measures like switching city street lights from costly high-pressure sodium to more efficient LED lights; eliminating seven city-owned vehicles used by department heads and the city administration; and selling the city-owned golf course, which he describes as an “underperforming asset.”

Greathouse’s research is impressive, and his aggressiveness leads us to endorse him in his bid to capture the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Ward council seat in the May 7 primary election. There is no incumbent in the race because the current councilman, John Brown, is seeking a Council at-Large seat.

Democratic candidate longtime Warren attorney Michael Scala loves the city he grew up in, and we believe he is sincere when he says he is running because it’s time to give back to his community. Still, we believe his level of enthusiasm and involvement in city operations fall short of his opponent.

It should be noted that for years, Greathouse has been a regular fixture at city council meetings, raising concerns on behalf of residents like himself and demanding a high bar from city leaders.

Scala acknowledged to us he does not attend council meetings, largely because he said he reaches out directly to council members individually when he has a question or an issue to discuss.

A “cash cow for Ohio Edison” is how Greathouse described the city’s street light program that costs taxpayers about $500,000 per year. He said he believes a switch to LED lights, which would require some hard-nosed negotiating with the utility company, could cut that bill by more than half.

During a Tribune Chronicle interview last week, Greathouse also expressed frustration with the city administration, which he described as “poor stewards of the people’s money” and lacking vision.

“I felt like there were ways to save that would have done away with the need to raise taxes, and I could not get anybody in the administration to give me 10 minutes of their time,” Greathouse said. “If we could get some of this to fly, maybe we could save enough money to not renew the income tax.”

Scala’s priorities included growing the number of employees in the city’s street department in order to replace workers who have left in recent years, but who were not replaced.

He also said he wants to focus on commercial development through improved marketing and promotion of assets, like inexpensive natural gas and energy, unlimited fresh water and a central location.

Scala said he also would pursue opening the door to creating a syringe exchange program in an effort to reduce the spread of diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV in Warren. We have not supported needle exchange programs previously, and we still fear they would send the wrong message and possibly enable use.

Greathouse’s aggressiveness is refreshing, and his years of regular attendance at council meetings and immersion in city issues proves his dedication. His priorities, motivation and enthusiasm tell us he is the better choice to move this stalled city out of park and into drive.