Siblings running for council in Columbiana, Leetonia

COLUMBIANA – Siblings Crystal and Kevin Siembida have spent their lives doing similar things, so it’s not surprising the two decided to run for local government seats at the same time.

For the first time, the brother and sister are seeking election to council seats – Crystal Siembida-Boggs in Columbiana and Kevin in Leetonia.

Both are running as independents in the November election, and they want to see more accountability and better lines of communication from their local government.

Siembida-Boggs said the “hot issues” in Columbiana now are the city’s utilities, specifically, use of the revenue from customer bills, and how council members get along with one another.

“People are questioning, did we pay out money the right way to people that are retiring? Is this legal? Is it right? Is this why our utilities are going up?” she said.

When the city lost former City Manager Keith Chamberlin and Service Director Jay Groner to retirement at the end of last year, their accumulated sick and vacation time was paid out of the utility funds. The money came out of those funds because their salaries were paid from the funds since they did work in those departments.

Municipal Attorney Daniel Blasdell has said the city did nothing illegal and Finance Director Mike Harold said a slight increase in utility rates is the result of an increase in the cost of power through the AMP Ohio contract.

Siembida-Boggs earned a seat on the city’s planning commission only a few months ago, and said since then, residents have reached out to her to share their concerns.

She had originally applied for the seat vacated by Councilman Bob Bieshelt in February.

Council opted to bring Planning Commission Chairman Dick McBane on to fill the open seat, and Siembida-Boggs was selected to fill the planning commission vacancy.

Siembida-Boggs believes she is a good choice for voters because she will take a proactive approach to making lasting, positive changes.

“Anything that happens on council, I want the public to know about it and understand what is going on in city governments,” she said.

She also wants residents to have easy access to materials, such as meeting agendas and other public documents.

“I want to make sure the people are informed and better informed than they are right now,” she said.

Siembida echoed the same sentiments.

“I want to be a part of the community that is helping build the community,” he said of his decision to run for council.

He also said, “I want to make the government accountable to the community.”

Specifically, he said people attending Leetonia Village Council meetings are not getting the full spectrum if they arrive on time. Instead, they should arrive early, because that is when things are discussed in more detail, he said.

If elected, he said he would work to get grant funding for the water and sewage problems the village has as a result of an aging infrastructure.

He also wants to see more investment in manufacturing, and hopes the nearly empty industrial park can be a home to more business.

“We need to draw some investment into the community,” he said.

But the first task is getting everybody to work together and communicate effectively, he added.

He believes he is a good choice for voters because he is going to daily apply his energy, leadership and vision to making Leetonia a better place for the future, he said.

He and Siembida-Boggs both served in the U.S. Army and did tours in Iraq. They enlisted in 2004 and Siembida-Boggs spent seven of her 20 months in Iraq. Siembida’s first deployment to Iraq was in 2006 and he later did a one-year tour in Afghanistan.

Siembida-Boggs and Siembida are Crestview graduates, and Siembida studied political science and economics at Youngstown State University and Anchorage University in Alaska.

Siembida-Boggs’s other local involvement includes serving on the Columbiana Chamber Board of Directors and Tourism Bureau. She and her husband Joshua founded the Siembida-Boggs Philanthropic Foundation, which organizes several benefit events in the city throughout the year.

They have two children, Elizabeth, 7, and Peyton, 2.

Siembida also has two children, Ziva is approaching 2 years, and Atticus is six months, and his girlfriend is Cassandra.