Eight vie for four seats on Mingo Junction Village Council
MINGO JUNCTION — Eight candidates are vying for four seats on Village Council during the Nov. 5 general election.
The candidates are: Jack Brettell, Democrat, of 705 Western Ave.; Patricia Cramblett, nonparty, 701 St. Clair Ave.; Jodilynn Fitzgerald, nonparty, 2466 Wilson Ave.; D’Andrea Harper, nonparty, 802 Lincoln Ave.; Michael Herrick, Democrat, 506 Benita Drive; James Morrocco, nonparty, 511 Petrick Ave.; Douglas Smith, nonparty, 101 Frank Ave.; and Martin Sohovich, write in, 704 Clair Ave.
Brettell, 71, was a fire chief and paramedic for the village for 33 years. He has served on council for the past eight years since his retirement.
“I have seen good and bad in our village since I have become a councilperson. As chief, I was in charge of the budget for my department along with other responsibilities that made the department run with checks and balances. I will help keep all the departments the same way,” he said.
Brettell serves as chairman of village council’s recreation committee.
“Our park and pool are the gems of the village, and I will make sure that they stay that way,” he said.
He said the village has hired a new water and sewer superintendent, and, with his help, we can start collecting past due water and sewer bills.
Brettell said he hopes the village can reduce the water and sewer department fees during the next few years.
“I was the only councilperson to vote against the $30 fee,” he said.
He wants to see the service department hire full-time and part-time personnel, adding the six workers are doing the work of 10, fixing roads, picking up garbage, cutting grass and many other jobs.
“Our future does look brighter with the steel mill reopening, thanks to JSW Steel. Now, with help from our village and outside guidance, we can bring some business back to town. We need a gas station, grocery store, pharmacy and more. We must support these businesses instead of having to go out of town,” he said.
“Our village can rebound, but we must work together — both administration and residents. There is to much bitterness among people in our little village. This must stop,” Brettell said.
Cramblett, 69, is president of the St. Agnes Catholic Women’s Club. She started an outreach program that works with Jefferson County Veterans Services Commission, offering assistance with utilities, prescription medicine and rides.
She also volunteers at the Friendship Room and Samaritan House. Cramblett was president of the Communication Workers of America Local 4527 for five years, representing four different Jefferson County departments as well as the village water and sewer and services departments, handling arbitration cases and negotiating contracts.
Cramblett said she wants to work with the other members of council, the mayor, revitalization committee and residents to help clean up and maintain the village. She said she will work to find ways to make the village marketable to investors and businesses, which will create new revenue.
“I will work with council and the mayor on an asset allocation plan to market our assets so new industries and business will find it beneficial to locate here. Should I be elected, I will always try to do what is best for the Village of Mingo Junction,” Cramblett said.
Fitzgerald, 54, has served on council for the past four years.
“My job has allowed me the unique opportunity to see how other cities and villages solve some of the same issues we currently face,” she said.
Fitzgerald said she wants to make the village a better place to live and raise a family. She wants to keep the cameras filming council meetings, and make sure the videos of meetings are available to the public. She also wants to see transparency with the Checkbook Ohio, which will allow residents to see spending by the village.
Fitzgerald said she is accessible to residents in various ways including telephone, e-mail, text, Facebook, messenger or in person.
“I have no issues with multiple forms of media to communicate,” she said.
“I would like to see more property maintenance enforcement. I would like to see our downtown area improve. We need to find grants to fix up or demolish the condemned buildings that have plagued this village for decades.”
Fitzgerald said she would like to find more opportunities like the LED lighting program she discovered.
“We are currently saving approximately $3,000 per month on our village electric bill. I also attempted to sign us up for an energy consortium program. Unfortunately, due to the age of our generators at the water and wastewater treatment plants, we did not qualify.”
“I am one of two council representatives who took the time to sign us up for the Opportunity Zone Program which Mingo qualified for and is now designated. This program is an economic tool, designed to spur economic development and job creation in low-income communities. I would also like to focus on a gas station, to go with Softite and the new businesses that have recently moved into town.”
Fitzgerald is an adviser for the Mingo Fire Explorer Club, communications chairperson and volunteer for Mingo Revitalization Committee.
She also is the Facebook administrator for the Mingo Junction Ohio Positive page, Mingopride page, Mingo Junction Fire Explorers and Municipal building internet pages.
Harper, 67, said he had management experience at Weirton Steel.
“I can offer a fresh outlook to the citizens of Mingo Junction,” he said.
Harper said his goals if elected include bringing new opportunities and businesses to create new jobs.
“I want to make Mingo Junction a proud village, with new roads, water treatment plant and try to bring young people back to the village with jobs.”
“I want to see what our financial status is, and to be open and honest with the people, so we can move forward for the future,” he said.
Harper said he wants to develop land along state Route 7 for new businesses. He said he would use tax breaks to entice new business, including a gas station or grocery store. He said such businesses would attract people to stop in the village.
“We need to show we are for businesses, and ready to move forward for the future.”
Herrick, 75, said he has served on council for 18 years, also serving for three years as the recreation director.
He said he is seeking re-election to serve the residents in improvements to the water and wastewater departments, including new water meters.
He wants to continue with paving of streets and continue improvements at the water and wastewater departments.
“I will work closely with (JSW Steel) to ensure great relations with them. I will reach out to businesses for development.”
Herrick said he also will work closely with state and local officials on possible grants and funding which might be available to the village.
“I have worked for 53 years in the teaching profession,” he said.
Morrocco did not respond to requests for comment because of health issues.
Smith, 55, is currently a security officer with Jefferson Security. He said he has operated several successful businesses, including a construction company and a grocery carry out.
“I am very capable in dealing with the public and with financial matters.”
“I am running for council to try and afford change for a better economic and business-oriented village, along with working to make the village is a great place to buy a home and live.”
Smith said he will work to sell water to outside entities and businesses.
“I will try and bring specialty shops to the historic downtown area. I will work to try and get a gas station in Mingo Junction. I will work hand in hand with the service department and water department to help get roads and water and sewage services repaired and updated where needed.”
Smith said he would work to improve village’s financial condition.
“I would have to study the current budget and situation, and then work with the rest of council and the departments in the village to adjust or change things for a more balanced financial condition.”
Smith said he will work to attract new business to the village, looking at new ideas and studying why the old ideas failed.
“I think that getting a gas station and some specialty shops in Mingo will help get some out-of-town people and residents excited about a rebirth and growth to our village. I look forward to serving the businesses and residents of Mingo Junction to the best of my ability and to strive to make our village is an even greater place to live. I have lived here my entire life, and want anyone who comes to Mingo Junction to enjoy living here and to enjoy their visit.”
Sohovich, 62, said he has more than 35 years of experience as a company president, business development executive and product and project manager, before recently serving as Jefferson County’s Regional Planning director and county land bank administrator. He said he has managed departments, client accounts, product lines, systems integration efforts, market research studies, technology assessments and business development efforts.
“I want to tackle the challenges of a small community facing the need to replace aging infrastructure as well as attract the social and job opportunities to retain and grow our younger population.”
Sohovich said he is committed to reversing aging infrastructure through comprehensive urban planning, budgeting and financing.
“All current and potential commercial areas should be re-examined for logistics and light-to-heavy industrial development. We need to leverage Mingo’s easy access to river, rail and major roads networks, as well as significant existing and potential industrial acreage.
“My objectives in infrastructure revitalization begins with comprehensive planning and budgeting, and better leveraging public and private grant and loan sources.”
As a member of council, he said he would establish a comprehensive planning and budgeting process for all departments and services; comprehensive financing plan for every capital investment project; comprehensive, ethical and openly competitive contracting process for all procurements; a comprehensive review of all revenue sources and collection means including fair charging for municipal services provided to commercial and private entities; an urban development plan focused on establishing Mingo’s revitalization including a potential new Mingo Town Center; a brownfield redevelopment plan for Mingo’s current downtown and industrial areas; and an economic development and marketing plan leveraging Mingo’s attributes.
“Mingo needs to move away from its short-term, ‘feast-or-famine’ spending process and focus on more disciplined planning and budgeting that better leverages grant and financing options available.”
Sohovich said he would be a full-time member of council.