Columbiana council vacancy filled

COLUMBIANA – An open seat on City Council was filled Tuesday night in a matter of minutes with three votes.

Richard McBane, chairman of the city’s Planning Commission, was approved for the seat vacated by Bob Bieshelt at the last regular meeting.

Votes in his favor were cast by Tom Ferguson, Lowell Schloneger and Mary Calinger.

Councilman Bryan Blakeman abstained, and the decision moved forward with a majority of the quorum in favor. Councilman James King was absent due to work obligations and Mayor David Spatholt was absent due to illness.

Schloneger, who is council president, led the meeting in Spatholt’s place.

Blakeman said he abstained because he believed not enough consideration was given to all applicants.

Council members didn’t receive the applications until minutes before the meeting, although they had been submitted to Spatholt as early as Feb. 6, the day after Bieshelt resigned.

The applications weren’t given to council until Tuesday because interested residents had until Monday to turn them in, Council Clerk Deann Davis explained.

In total, six people showed an interest, including McBane-who ran for council in 2011 against Bieshelt.

Others were Daniel Kemats, currently the assistant principal at David Anderson High School in Lisbon; Crystal Siembida-Boggs, the executive secretary for the Columbiana Area Tourism Bureau; Richard Hura, practicing attorney; Daniel Bekar, a former Columbiana school teacher; and David L. Perkins, who works for the Columbiana Buick Cadillac Chevrolet Co.

Boggs was the only one who indicated in her application that she was already intending to run for council in the November election.

McBane will also need to run in the election to fill the rest of Bieshelt’s term, which is two years. He will resign from the planning commission, a position he was appointed to by council.

Ferguson, who also serves on the commission, said the five who weren’t chosen for council should try for the open seat on the planning commission.

Whomever is chosen will fill the remainder of McBane’s six-year term, which began Jan. 1. He had already served one term on the commission when he was reappointed for another term in December.

That decision was also met with some opposition, for a similar reason that Blakeman opposed putting McBane on council Tuesday night.

In December, Blakeman and Bieshelt said that McBane shouldn’t be reappointed to the commission without first allowing other residents the opportunity to apply.

On Tuesday, Blakeman said the full council should be present to make the decision to fill Bieshelt’s seat, and that filling a council seat without thoroughly looking over the applications first was “crazy.”

He said that while he looks forward to serving with McBane, he does not think the “public was served.”

“It’s not to say that you’re not the best guy, but we didn’t even look to see who applied. I think people in this city need to be aware of that,” he said to McBane.

Another man who was seated in the audience and did not state his name, stood up and agreed.

“I think that excellent people applied and did not have the opportunity … I do think the city of Columbiana is run on an old boys network. I’d like to see these guys have an opportunity to be interviewed,” he said.

Ferguson said he chose McBane because he felt the public had spoken in the November 2011 election.

“The citizens voted Bob Bieshelt in here by 20 votes, so I think that the public had spoken. I think Dick had displayed that he wanted this position back in the election period,” he said.

Ferguson had also said during the meeting he wanted to resign from his seat on the planning commission, but former mayor Dick Simpson pointed out the city’s charter stipulates that a person representing council on the commission must serve until the end of their term.

For Ferguson, that term is up at the end of this year.

He said he wanted to resign because two council members shouldn’t be on the planning commission and he believed McBane was doing a good job as chairman.

But McBane was a citizen’s representative on the commission and as councilman he can no longer fill that role.

McBane said he’s looking forward to serving the community as councilman and that he was surprised by the old boy comment.

He said that although he is a native of Columbiana, he has not always lived or worked here. He has previously lived in Australia and Chicago and his work experience includes serving as director of e-commerce for the Gas Research Institute. He has also held three different management positions for the institute.

He has also served as administrative manager and project geologist for Dames and Moore, based out of Australia and Washington D.C.

He holds an MBA from Case Western Reserve University and a bachelor of science and master of science in geology from Purdue University.

His community involvement includes the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion and American Legion Riders, charter member and past treasurer.

Municipal Attorney Daniel Blasdell administered the oath of office to him during the council meeting and he was seated on council shortly after.