Mayor’s vote breaks the tie

COLUMBIANA — It took two ballots and tie-breaking vote cast by the mayor, but the city planning commission has a new member.

Local banker Scott Jones was chosen from among six applicants at this week’s city council meeting to replace Kirby Zellers, who resigned from the planning commission in October due to his job.

Mayor Bryan Blakeman broke the 3-3 tie between Jones and Tony Dolan, who ran for council in the Nov. 7 election but did not garner enough votes to win one of the three seats that were up.

The other applicants for the planning commission seat were Harry Kacenski, Nicole Ice, William Welsh and Yvette Jester.

When it came time to choose a replacement, council member Crystal Siembida-Boggs wanted to know if her colleagues intended to review the applications before voting. “Are we going to discuss this or does everyone know who they’re voting for?” she asked.

Blakeman said they were free to discuss the matter, but when none of the council members opted to do so, he called for a vote, which was conducted by paper ballot, with the ballots counted aloud by Clerk of Council Deann Davis.

The first vote went like this: Siembida-Boggs voted for Jester, Skip Liston and Richard McBane for Dolan, and Ted Souder, Rick Noel and Dan Bekar for Jones.

Since no one garnered a majority of the votes, council followed past practice and held a second ballot consisting of the top two vote-getters, Jones and Dolan.

The only change that occurred during the second ballot came when Siembida-Boggs cast her vote for Dolan, creating a 3-3 tie.

City Attorney Amanda Banner said the city charter gives the mayor the authority to break any ties and Blakeman voted for Jones.

Jones, who lives on Lakeshore Drive, is a mortgage originator for Home Savings Bank in Columbiana. He also serves on the civil service commission but stated he would resign should he be appointed.

“Given the opportunity, I’m confident my many years of business experiences, personal and professional perspectives, would be an asset to the local planning commission,” Jones said in his letter to council.

City Manager Lance Willard was gratified by the number of applicants, noting there was a time when they had to hunt for people willing to serve on the planning commission.

During his report to council, Willard said the old PNC building is expected to be razed in early December to make way for an AutoZone and the new fire station planned for the south side of the railroad tracks is expected to go to bid in early January.

Willard and council members also thanked the Chamber of Commerce for again hosting the Christmas parade, with Willard saying, “it just seems to be getting bigger and bigger.”