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5th Ward race leaves much to be desired

Voters in Warren’s 5th Ward will face a difficult decision at the polls next month and — unless other candidates come forward in the next week — likely again in the fall.

We believe the two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in the May 4 primary election have a sincere desire to represent and serve their community, but we were disappointed with issues like their knowledge, goals and transparency.

There is no incumbent in the race because current 5th Ward Councilman Ken MacPherson is instead running for Warren council At-Large.

Democratic challenger Pierson “Butch” Butcher, 72, has been active in volunteer work in his community. He is a retired General Motors fabrication plant worker.

Ashley Miner, 35, a mother of four, says she wants to make Warren better for her children and other young people.

When asked by the Tribune Chronicle editorial board, neither candidate had a clear-cut recommendation on how to spend the $29 million the city is about to receive in federal stimulus money, but here is a recap of some issues they did present.

Butcher regularly has cut grass and removed debris around the city and volunteered with Warren Neighborhood Initiative and Community Concerned Citizens II in the rehabilitation of the Quinby Park Shelter House in 2017. He was selected as a 2014 Trumbull County Community Star for his volunteer efforts.

Butcher said he would like to organize a volunteer effort to speed removal of city blight and abandoned houses.

He also said he particularly was concerned about the city’s continued use of brine aggregate on icy roads. He believes the material is not cost effective, damages road, vehicles and, potentially, also city sewers.

We are distressed that Butcher inaccurately completed a Tribune Chronicle election questionnaire, on which he indicated he never was charged or convicted of a crime. However, Butcher was charged in September with animal cruelty, and he was found guilty to the charge Feb. 1.

We cannot endorse, in good conscience, a candidate who lacks accuracy and transparency in responding to questions posed by media on behalf of the public.

Miner’s goals focused heavily on social issues, but she lacked details on implementation. She’s calling for better monitoring of privately operated drug rehabilitation programs, describing rehab center parking lots as “party places.”

She would like to see the abandoned Downtown Motor Inn hotel at 777 Mahoning Ave. NW converted to a shelter, particularly for homeless veterans. When asked, however, she lacked details on the enormous undertaking, including repairs, cleanup and operation, acknowledging community groups she’s approached have been “afraid of taking it on.”

Miner would like to improve police relations and on the topic of safety services, believes spending should be reined in on things like police body cameras and replacement of police cruisers or fire trucks.

She is not involved in neighborhood or volunteer efforts. Miner does have an arrest record, but all 2006 charges of aggravated arson were dismissed. She listed the charges on her candidate questionnaire and, when asked by a reporter, openly discussed the issue.

We were pleased with Miner’s transparency and with her desire to serve in Warren, but we are concerned with her lack of involvement and experience, and we believe many of her goals are ill conceived.

The primary election is May 4. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Robert Marchese, who formerly served as city council president. Marchese was convicted in 2015 of an amended misdemeanor charge stemming from misuse of a credit card after investigators said he had opened a credit card account in his deceased wife’s name.

We are disappointed with both parties’ pool of candidates in this Warren’s 5th Ward council race. We cannot endorse either candidate for the Democratic nomination and are concerned about the Republican candidate the winner will face in November.

Frankly, we are hopeful that another challenger might throw a hat into the ring as a nonparty or independent candidate in order to give voters another option come fall. There still is time, but it’s dwindling.

The deadline for independent candidates to file nominating petitions for this year’s general election is 4 p.m. May 3, one day before the primary election.

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