Field for city council race is set

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 22, 2003

Now that Thursday's filing deadline has passed, the four-way race to fill three seats on the Ironton City Council is ready to begin.

However, nothing is official until the Lawrence County Board of Elections meets at 4 p.m. today to approve the petitions for the November ballot.

In addition to the position of mayor, the three council seats held by

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Jesse Roberts, Bob Lipker and Richard Price are up for grabs. Roberts and Price are seeking reelection for another four-year term, but Lipker is not.

In addition to the two incumbents, former city health commissioner Charlie Kouns and Briggs-Lawrence County Public Library branch manager Chuck O'Leary will seek the positions.

Council Chairman Roberts filed his petition Tuesday. Even if reelected, Roberts will no longer be the chairman. Councilman Jim Tordiff will take that position Dec. 1 because he received the most votes in the 2001 election.

Roberts, 42, is finishing his eighth year on council. He said the small number of candidates, combined with some unfinished business, motivated him to run again.

"The lack of people stepping up for the offices worried me. It takes people who are interested in the city and the well-being of the residents," he said. "I feel like I can draw on my experience to help us continue towards an exciting future."

Roberts cited adding an economic development director, the acquisition of the property that will become the South Ironton Industrial Park and attracting businesses such as Liebert and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital as evidence that the city is poised for good things that he hopes to continue to be a part of.

Price, 46, was appointed in 2000 to serve part of former Councilman Joe Black's term. In 2001, he was elected by the voters to serve the final two years of Black's term.

Like Roberts, he agreed that there is still work that needs to be completed.

"I think there are a still a lot of things unfinished," he said. "I would like like to be a part of those projects and, hopefully, bring more jobs and businesses to the city."

Price said he always tried to keep the city's interests in mind and never focus on one particular group. One area he said he would like to focus on, if reelected, is negotiating a new contract with Adelphia Cable or another cable provider when the current contract expires in 2006.

O'Leary, 51, has a master's degree in public administration and has worked in management positions at Kroger, Matlack, River Valley Health Systems and the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library.

"My main concern is the development of this community," he said. "Everyone is antsy about jobs. I lost my job, so I know what it is like.

"I want to bring in better-paying jobs. I am a new face, new blood with new ideas."

Without laying the blame on anyone, he questions how much effort has been made in the past 20 years, he said.

Kouns recently retired after 41 years as registered sanitarian and health commissioner for the city. He said his experience working with numerous city departments will help him serve the community and continue to treat the general public fairly.

"There are things that need to be addressed that have not been addressed in the 40 years I have been there," he said. "When a dilapidated house sits there for years and nothing is done, that is a gross neglect on the part of the administration."

In the mayoral race, current Mayor Bob Cleary, Councilman John Elam and Ironton building officer Karl Wentz filed petitions. Citizen Charles D. "Duke" Sheridan withdrew his petition Thursday.

Look for in-depth candidate profiles and updates on other village council and school board elections in upcoming editions of The Ironton Tribune.