Niles mayor deserves a full term

The youthful exuberance of Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz, 35, may be a large part of the reason he seems able to keep his finger on the pulse of city operations while moving Niles into the digital age.

Challenger Jimmy DePasquale, 64, argues, though, that he is the more seasoned and, therefore, better candidate due to his experience as a 30-year city worker, coupled with a one-year stint as part of former Mayor Thomas Scarnecchia’s administration.

We liked some of DePasquale’s ideas, including his call to become more aggressive at seeking infrastructure grants and his desire to hire a coordinator to plan monthly city-wide events like a New Year’s Eve ball drop, Easter parade and more, with hopes of bringing visitors downtown.

We believe DePasquale is sincere in his love of the city and his desire to work to bring it back to past glory days.

Still, DePasquale’s close relationship with city workers and his pro-labor mentality concern us, especially when it comes time to negotiate labor contracts, toe the line on spending or take disciplinary action if needed.

We also are concerned with DePasquale’s previous opposition of outsourcing the city’s health and income tax departments, which resulted in significant savings and new revenue for the city.

Mientkiewicz, meanwhile, also believes in the need for improved infrastructure, and also said aggressively seeking grants for repairs is critical. He was proud of his growing involvement with Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, a collaborative that develops recommendations and works together to fund infrastructure improvements.

Under Mientkiewicz’s watch, the city now is utilizing a cellphone messaging system to alert residents of issues like waterline breaks. He is in talks with Youngstown State University about partnering on grant writing. And he said he would like to develop a GPS / mapping system for underground utility lines and infrastructure.

All these plans will keep moving Niles forward.

Mientkiewicz believes the city’s decision to outsource its health department and income tax department was the right move financially that has saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He is realistic about dealing with income tax revenue lost from the General Motors plant closure, and the loss of big retailers like Sears and Kmart.

We liked Mientkiewicz’s fresh attitude and hands-on approach to managing the city, and that’s why we support Mientkiewicz in his bid for re-election. After serving less than a year of an appointed term, we believe Mientkiewicz should be afforded the opportunity to continue on his current path for at least a full term in office.

A third candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, George Kuriatnyk, told us last week he doesn’t really want to be mayor and was planning to drop out of the race. Now Kuriatnyk’s Facebook page says he is quitting the race, although officials at the Trumbull Board of Elections say he hasn’t technically withdrawn.

If Kuriatnyk does stay in the race, he should not be considered a serious candidate.

So far, no other candidate has filed to run in the fall against the successful Democratic nominee. If it stays that way, the winner of this primary race will win the seat.

If that were to happen, we’d be just fine with seeing Mientkiewicz keep the reins.