Barilla has chance to make difference

It has been 25 years since someone other than Domenick Mucci occupied the mayor’s office in Steubenville.

But we have confidence that Jerry Barilla will not just settle into the job but display the kind of skills that enabled him to stay in business for years after big-box retailers replaced most of the appliance dealer competition.

The city needs that kind of positive character at the top. Steubenville has faced some trying times in recent years as the economy fell, the steel industry packed up and left and retail took its share of big hits from online competition.

He has downtown redevelopment high on his list of priorities. He has spoken of examples from around the state in the past, including Kent, where investors have reinvigorated a compact downtown near the university campus.

He has a willingness to hear ideas and wants to keep people working together. And, he has a deep faith that he doesn’t hide, but relies upon. He plans to continue his work at Historic Fort Steuben and doesn’t consider it an interruption for the mayor to continue to mow the grass at the city’s major tourist attraction.

Barilla is well known to those who are making investments in projects that are successful, such as new downtown businesses and the Nutcracker Village tourism attraction for the holidays.

He will, we hope, be able to change policies that seem restrictive to enable greater investment and growth.

What Barilla knows he lacks is the decades of experience in dealing with government programs and knowledge of state and federal government that Mucci had. We hope Barilla and Mucci stay in touch. The need for that knowledge didn’t cease with a change at the top of the elected portion of city government.

Steubenville has changed. The character of the mayor’s office will change and will, with cooperation from citizens and political leaders, shape the change of the city for better days ahead.