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New faces best for Warren’s 1st, 5th wards

Residents living in Warren’s 5th Ward will receive a new council member to represent them this year, as current 5th Ward Councilman Ken MacPherson, instead, is seeking a council at-Large seat.

Voters will choose among four candidates for 5th Ward seat — Democrat Ashley Miner, Republican Robert Marchese and two nonparty candidates, Koree McLennan and Kamau Thornton.

Residents would be best served to cast their ballots for political newcomer Kamau Thornton, who has experience in municipal economic development, 911 dispatching and retail sales. The U.S. Navy veteran holds a strong religious faith as the son of a local pastor and also a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Thornton lists economic development, especially along U.S. Route 422, as a priority, along with eliminating city blight and crime.

He worked for several years for the city of Youngstown before resigning to relocate from the area. Now that he has returned home, he says he wants to serve his community.

He says his experience both as an emergency dispatcher and in Youngstown’s economic development department helped grow his knowledge of municipal operations.

We agree, and we were impressed with his passion for this community.

We caution voters who might be swayed by a recognizable name, Robert Marchese — former Warren Council President — or by the “D” appearing after the name of Democratic nominee Ashley Miner. Neither would be a better choice, from our vantage point.

We understand everyone makes mistakes, but we find it difficult to ignore Marchese’s 2015 conviction on an amended misdemeanor charge stemming from misuse of a credit card. Investigators at the time said Marchese had opened and used a credit card account in the name of his deceased wife.

During a personal interview earlier this year, we found Miner to be transparent and hold a genuine desire to serve Warren. However, we remain concerned with her lack of involvement in the community and her limited experience. We also believe many of her goals are ill conceived. Her ideas focused heavily on social issues, but she lacked details on implementation.

McLennan did not return our candidate questionnaire nor our requests for participation in our endorsement process.

We believe Thornton is by far the best choice of the four candidates seeking Warren’s 5th Ward seat, and we endorse him.

WARREN 1ST WARD

We believe Warren’s 1st Ward also would be best served by a change in elected leadership.

Independent candidate Todd Johnson, pastor at Second Baptist Church, will face Democratic incumbent Councilman Larry Larson.

Johnson believes his role as pastor helped improve his knowledge of Warren and prepare him for elected service.

“Being a pastor is not unlike being a leader of a community because it is a community in and of itself,” Johnson said. “Pastoring a church in the 6th Ward, I know exactly what heavy drug activity can do to the community,” he said, noting crime often leads good people to shy away from the community.

As far as American Rescue Plan funding, Johnson says he would dedicate some funds to improving infrastructure like sewers and sidewalks, but he also believes funds should be used to focus on improving small-town life here. That includes things like aesthetics, lighting and signs and improving parks and recreation.

If elected, he notes he would be the only council member with small children in Warren City Schools. Johnson, a lifelong Warren resident, graduated from Warren G. Harding High School.

At this juncture, Johnson believes someone with fresh ideas, a solid understanding of new technology and things like green energy, new directions of business and retail, is needed. That’s why he believes he is the better candidate, and frankly, we do, too.

Johnson’s opponent, a retired General Motors worker, has served on council since 2013. We have not necessarily opposed the way Larson has presented or reacted to 1st Ward issues during his tenure, and we are pleased with his civic-minded involvement in the community.

However, we are deeply troubled by Larson’s refusal to be interviewed or speak frankly with this newspaper about his priorities and plans. We see that as a failure in transparency for his constituency.

We endorse Johnson for 1st Ward Council seat.

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