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Return both incumbents in Howland

As one of the most populous and heavily traveled townships in Trumbull County, Howland requires experienced, fiscally responsible and constituent-focused governance. We believe the two incumbents seeking to be returned to the governing board of trustees have embodied the necessary traits, and as one of them, Trustee Matt Vansuch, will tell you, their work generally comes with “no drama.”

The Tribune Chronicle endorses incumbents Vansuch and James LaPolla for re-election on Nov. 2.

Still, some, like challenger Brian Burkey, in the three-person nonpartisan race for two seats on the board, think differently.

Burkey, a township resident since 2009, works at Lordstown Motors Corp. and serves on the Howland Board of Education. He is not seeking re-election to the school board, instead seeking a trustee post.

His primary goals focus on improving ongoing flooding problems by upgrading drainage infrastructure, improving roads and upgrading areas of Bolindale, including that area’s playground. He believes the current governing board often ignores, or at the very least, forgets Bolindale.

Regarding Howland roads, Burkey criticized the township’s use of “skin paving” and said the “horrible” condition of township roads needs to be addressed.

While more permanent than cold patch, skin paving is defined as a temporary form of surface patching.

Burkey said he believes more permanent road improvements are within the existing budget. “We have the funding. The township just got approved for a road levy,” he said.

Voters last November renewed a 1.5-mill road levy for another five years. While maintaining road repair revenue, that levy does not generate new or additional road repair revenue, and Vansuch said funds still must be spent carefully.

Regarding skin paving, Vansuch said the more-affordable process is used in tandem with other forms of road resurfacing to allow more of the township’s 80 miles of roadways to be repaired annually.

If re-elected, Vansuch said he would like to form a committee to re-examine township zoning regulations, which he believes help make the township appealing both to business development and residents. Vansuch said it was township guidelines that helped ensure vacant industrial properties, such as vacated Delphi plants, were left in a condition allowing them to be more easily marketed for new uses.

“The government shouldn’t be left cleaning up the mess that you leave,” Vansuch said. “We don’t think government should be left footing the bill on that.”

During his personal interview with the newspaper’s editorial board, LaPolla, a local podiatrist, said he is most proud of his work in helping to create a Council of Governments, a Trumbull County-wide organization that works to unite local governments for projects to improve purchasing power and share services.

In his interview, Vansuch, an attorney by trade, spoke knowledgeably and in great detail about economic development in the township, specifically about the township’s comprehensive plan and commercial development.

On the topic of economic development, both LaPolla and Vansuch stressed continued focus on improving infrastructure in the township’s Golden Triangle area, noting the critical importance of the area to some 2,000 workers there.

Both incumbents also spoke favorably about new efforts in the works to develop the now barren former RG Steel property. Parts of the former mill straddle borders of Howland, Warren and Warren Township.

Of course, we do not agree with every policy the two incumbents enacted. During their current term in office, both incumbents and fellow trustee Rick Clark had enacted a speed traffic camera program that they claimed was created with the sole intention of slowing vehicles for increased safety, particularly in school zones. However, when state lawmakers established new policies that called for reduced state funding to offset speed camera revenues in communities using the devices, Howland trustees quickly halted their use of the service.

When asked by this newspaper’s editorial board about the decision that suspiciously appears to resemble one based on finances, both incumbents still maintain it was not money driven.

The decision by any local elected officials to use speed cameras has us flummoxed. We so strongly oppose the camera use that we contemplated not endorsing the incumbents for this reason. However, we moved past that reluctance because they have halted use of the cameras.

It is clear all three candidates have strong concern and knowledge of Howland. However, we believe the current board has operated smoothly and efficiently. Economic development in the township has been steady, yet controlled.

We believe both incumbents have earned an opportunity to continue the work they’ve begun.

We endorse Vansuch and LaPolla for re-election as Howland trustees.

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