Change needed in Warren’s Second Ward

Science teacher Andrew Herman is hoping to unseat Alford Novak, one of Warren’s longest- serving city council members, for his 2nd Ward seat, and based on some of the approaches Novak has taken, we support Herman’s effort in the upcoming Democratic primary.

We have been vocal in our opposition to the city’s plan to create its own vehicle impound lot, and particularly to Novak’s refusal, as chairman of council’s police and fire committee, to add language to an ordinance that would create a distinct avenue for appeals from residents whose vehicles are towed.

Novak acknowledged that he received pressure from other council members to remove the appeals language, but when pressed further for answers during an interview last week with this newspaper’s editorial board, he would not specify why he agreed to the move.

We have been strongly opposed to the city’s operation of the tow yard, which will compete with private industry and serve as a revenue-generator for the city.

This isn’t Novak’s only approach to private business that is bothersome.

Novak, an active member of the United Food & Commercial Workers union, retired from Giant Eagle supermarket after working for 50 years at various area grocery stores.

In a newspaper candidate questionnaire completed by Novak in recent weeks, the councilman openly described the grocery chain using derogatory terms. We were bothered by his childish and inappropriate approach, especially considering that the company provides hundreds of jobs, city utility purchases and sorely needed tax dollars to Warren.

In 2013, Novak, as a member of the union, picketed the Bottom Dollar store, 1756 North Road SE, which was a nonunion grocery store owned by a Brussels-based company that had opened and began doing business within city limits. At the time, critics of the pickets argued the company had brought 50 new jobs, paid taxes and purchased water and sewer services from Warren. The store’s existence was short-lived in Warren, and it eventually closed its doors.

“Yes, I ran the Bottom Dollar picket line, and I’m glad I did it,” Novak said during last week’s interview with this newspaper. “We got rid of them.”

Frankly, we are appalled that a sitting city councilman would take this approach with city businesses.

Both Novak and his challenger, Herman, mentioned during interviews with the Tribune Chronicle editorial board their intentions to find a way to complete costly demolition of blight, including the former St. Joseph Riverside Hospital on Tod Avenue NW and now the vacant hotel on Mahoning Avenue NW.

Novak was adamant he would like to see some of the city’s $29 million in COVID-19 stimulus funds go toward these demolition projects and also demolition of a vacant city building at 418 S. Main Ave.

Herman spoke of creating partnerships with organizations within the city, such as Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, to seek grants, and also with neighboring townships to create regionalized efforts that could spur growth and development.

Herman, meanwhile, offers some big ideas that we admit may be a bit out of reach at this time and especially for a freshman councilman. For example, he spoke of growth in the areas of genetic engineering studies.

“If we invested in teaching genetic engineering when I said it 20 years ago, and brought in people with certifications, we would be making (COVID-19) vaccines right in the Valley,” he said.

While that’s a pie-in-the-sky attitude, it’s never bad to think big, as long as your roots are based in reality.

We recognize the challenge that Herman will face in his attempt to unseat such a long-term councilman, but we support the effort. We believe it’s time for a change in the city’s 2nd Ward.

We endorse Andrew Herman in the Democratic primary.

The winner of the Democratic primary will go on to face Republican David C. Burnham in the general election. Additionally, nonparty candidates also may file until May 3 to run in the November election.


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