Colbert should keep integrity, above politics

Eddie Colbert may be among the most qualified of any safety-service directors in recent memory to hold the Warren administrative post.

Now it’s up to him to command the respect due the post by listening and acting swiftly on matters in a way that is far from the realm of politics and instead are made only based on what is right and best for our city as a whole.

Our review of the qualifications of Warren’s newly appointed safety-service director came due in large part to the discussions held last spring and summer over what qualifications this administrator should possess — and whether the job’s pay rate should be based solely on qualifications, as in most other hirings of top executives in the private sector.

Colbert, a former Warren councilman, was appointed to his new post by Mayor Doug Franklin after former Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa took over as Warren law director earlier this month.

Colbert originally was elected in 2009 as a 7th Ward councilman and served three two-year terms. In 2015, he was elected as a councilman-at-large and was just elected to his third two-year term in November for a term that would have run from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021.

On council, Colbert was chairman of the finance committee and chairman of the police and fire committee, and his role on council paved the way for Colbert’s deep understanding of the city’s budget, and his good relationships with members of council and many city department heads and employees.

Colbert most recently served as an account manager for Coca-Cola, where he was responsible for managing a sales portfolio of more than 80 accounts, negotiating contracts, writing contracts and expanding sales opportunities.

Before that, Colbert was a sales representative for an industrial uniform company for about a year and from 2004 to mid-2007, Colbert was a mental health worker at a counseling center in Sharon, Pa., according to his resume.

Colbert also has a four-year degree in criminal justice with an emphasis on political science from Youngstown State University and is on the board of directors for the Trumbull County Historical Society, Trumbull Mobile Meals and Trumbull Community Action Program.

Last year, Councilman Ken MacPherson, D-5th Ward, had proposed legislation that would have based the position’s pay level on qualifications such as management experience in municipal government or similar entity and educational achievement.

MacPherson said he made the proposal in response to “angst” he was hearing in the community and in an effort to hold people accountable.

While the legislation never became law, it’s clear that Colbert brings a background that, indeed, makes him very qualified to serve in the role that involves leading an organization of several hundred employees. The safety service director oversees all city departments — from police and fire to water and operations — and works on city / union contract negotiations, executes contracts and reports directly to the mayor.

Colbert now has a great duty ahead of him. It requires that he remain above the cesspool of local politics that often draws in so many good people. It is a slippery slope.

Colbert should continue the good work he conducted on council and, we hope he maintains a high level of integrity. We hope Colbert will remain the good city leader that we have respected and trusted through the years. We have high hopes, but it’s up to Colbert to execute.