Voters suffer from ill-timed resignation

Former Niles Council President Barry Steffey Jr. appeared to be on the fast track to another term in the post.

But his last-minute resignation from the post last week has left the Democratic Party scrambling to find a replacement candidate.

The deadline for the party to find a replacement for the November ballot is 4 p.m. Monday at the elections board. The party also must find a replacement to fill the rest of Steffey’s term that expires at the end of the year.

The local Republican Party already failed to put forth a candidate, and it is well past the May 6 deadline for potential candidates to file to run as independents.

This leaves Niles voters in a bind because they now will rely only on the Democratic Party to put up a candidate who, most likely, will waltz into office with few options for the voters.

(Granted, write-in candidates still have a few weeks until Aug. 26, the deadline to file declarations of intent to run in the general election.)

We are disappointed at Steffey’s last-minute decision to pull out of this race. As a public servant for many years, we would have expected that he be more cognizant of these important election deadlines and the limits his untimely resignation and withdrawal now places on voters who should have the right to make this decision at the polls.

And any existing members of council who might have been interested in running for the post but who already won the Democratic Party nomination in the May primary are prevented under Ohio law from running for the new term for council president.

We also are disappointed at Steffey’s lack of explanation to the constituents who have for many years elected him to different posts on city council. For two days, he even failed to return calls from the Tribune Chronicle seeking answers.

A letter he wrote to the Trumbull County Board of Elections states his departure is due to “immediate and expanding opportunities and responsibilities in the private sector.”

It is worth noting that Steffey’s ongoing tax troubles remain. The Trumbull County Clerk of Court’s website shows several open state tax lien cases against Steffey going back to 2011, when a lien for $321 was filed. Another lien was filed every other year through 2017 — $1,586 in 2013; $1,602 in 2015; and $1,708 in 2017 — and there was another filed in 2012 for $194 and another last year for $2,300.

State liens filed by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the Ohio Department of Taxation are released when the balances are paid.

Of course everyone should pay their taxes, but it is even more imperative that our elected officials set a good example for their constituents by staying on top of these things.

It seems Steffey’s failure to do that should have sent a signal to voters long ago — and before we got into this mess.