O#039;Leary, Price, Roberts land council seats

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Chuck O'Leary may be a newcomer to politics right now, but he will be the Ironton City Council chairman in two years.

No one was really surprised that the two incumbents, Richard Price and Jesse Roberts, were reelected to the Ironton City Council.

Incumbents Price, 2,146 votes, and Roberts, 2,100 votes, were each reelected for another four-year term. Charlie Kouns, the retired city health commissioner, was unsuccessful in his bid to get on council with 1,649 votes.

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However, the big shock was that newcomer Chuck O'Leary led the ballot with 2,167 votes. No one was more surprised than O'Leary.

O'Leary, the 51-year-old branch manager of the Briggs-Lawrence County Public Library who has a master's degree in public administration, will become the council chairman and vice-mayor in 2005 because he received the most votes.

"It did surprise me," O'Leary said. "I think it sent council as a whole a message that they have to get moving, get something going in this town. But it surprised me more than anyone."

O'Leary wanted to thank everyone who supported him and to encourage the community to continue the support of the council well after the election was over.

"I would like to draw on the community to serve on different types of committees to help solve the problems we have now and in the future," he said. "We need to draw from the assets in this community. We have a lot of bright people in this town."

After getting acclimated, O'Leary said he would like to work with council and the new mayor to revitalize downtown by attracting small businesses and entrepreneurs who are willing to invest in the community.

Overall, he said accountability still needs to be the primary focus.

"It is time to shut up and do something. I think it is going to happen - it must happen," he said. "If I can't affect change now, I won't say 'give me four more years.'"

After eight years on council, Roberts, 42, said he is excited about the opportunity to continue serving the community for another four years.

"It feels good. The confidence of the people that they invested in me by voting is something to thankful for," he said. "It is a chance to move forward with many positive things that have begun."

Roberts said that he is confident that the new council and new mayor can work well together to move the city towards a better future for all its citizens.

"This will be the third mayor I have worked with. We haven't always agreed on council, but that is what makes the relationship the way it is," he said. "He will get my respect as mayor and I will do what is best for the citizens."

"It is not about who is right or wrong," Roberts added. "It is about doing what is best for the people of Ironton. We have to be a team and that is what I intend to do."

With three years on council under his belt, Price, 46, took a different approach than most candidates, but one that must have struck something with the voters. He did not run a single advertisement or put up a political sign, but he nearly received the most votes

"I have always considered myself a public servant more than a politician," Price said. " I have tried to serve the citizens. If they they thought I have done a good job, I hope they voted for me. If not, that is fine too. I felt that I have worked hard, made the right choices, to be reelected."

Price said he wanted to thank all the citizens of Ironton and that he will continue to work hard and keep their best interests at heart.

Overall, he said he was excited about the opportunity to mix the old with the new and move the city forward.

"I am sure there will be challenges ahead and opportunities," Price said. "With new faces, there will be some new ideas. Maybe we can head in the same direction we were heading and also add to that."