5 candidates seeking 4 seats on Leetonia council

LEETONIA- Village residents will choose between five candidates to fill four council seats on Tuesday’s ballot.

Candidates include incumbents Dan Summers and Danny Fire, political newcomers Chris Earl and Kevin Siembida and former New Waterford councilwoman Suzanne Buchanan.

– Suzanne Buchanan is a retired office manager who has worked for newspapers and in politics. She currently serves as president of the Friends of the Leetonia Community Public Library and in the past has served as vice chairman of the Leetonia Citizens Committee, vice president of the Leetonia Historical Society, chairman of the Christmas in Historic Leetonia home tour and member of the Leetonia Chamber of Commerce steering committee.

In addition to her time on the New Waterford Village Council, Buchanan was also appointed to the New Waterford BPA and director of the Columbiana County Visitor’s Bureau.

A graduate of Leetonia High School, Buchanan said her main qualification for council is her desire to help the village.

“Leetonia, like many municipalities in the country, has suffered due to economic downturns, the housing market disaster, skyrocketing insurance costs and loss of population,” she said. “I believe that I can use my experience and networking ability to help find solutions to the problems facing Leetonia.”

Buchanan said if elected she will take a proactive approach to problems.

“I have the determination to set goals and work toward them,” she said. “I want to see the council project a five-year plan to help make Leetonia the kind of place people can’t wait [to] reside in. We have a great school system and library. We should strive to make the rest of Leetonia live up to the same standard.”

Buchanan resides on High Street.

– Chris Earl is a 1995 graduate of Leetonia High School who has lived in the village his entire life. He is currently employed as an information technology associate at the West Branch Local School District.

An Information Technology/Computer Network Systems graduate from ITT Technical Institute, Earl earned an electrical certificate from Kent State University and has previously worked 14 years at Quaker City Castings in Salem.

Earl said his qualifications include leadership, knowledge, honesty and personable personality, as well as a desire to serve the community in which he has lived his entire life.

“I was born and raised in Leetonia and I have seen what the village once was and the potential that it still holds,” he said. “I have high integrity and strong morals. I will be the voice for the people.”

Earl lives with his wife on Somer Street. They have one son and are expecting a daughter in November.

– Danny Fire, incumbent, was appointed to council in June 2012. He previously served 12 years on council before losing his seat in the 2011 election. He is currently the director of safety at B&T ExPress Inc. in North Lima and has worked in trucking his entire life.

A 1972 graduate of Ursuline High School, Fire is a certified director of safety. He cites his experienced leadership and business management background as qualifications to serve on council.

During his tenure on council, Fire said his biggest accomplishments have been helping secure grants for the Salem to Leetonia waterline, various waterline extensions and village parks.

He is currently commander of the Sons of the American Legion Post 131, a Washingtonville VFW Men’s Auxiliary member and a third-degree Knights of Columbus in Leetonia.

Fire lives with his wife, Susan, on Somer Street. They have two children and one granddaughter.

– Kevin Siembida is a Columbiana County native, graduating high school in 2004. He served eight years in the U.S. Army, five of which were spent on active duty as a staff sergeant in the infantry as an airborne paratrooper, and, following two overseas tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, served as in the reserve helping a medical support unit train combat medics, preparing them for combat operations they are likely to face.

Siembida has also spent the past three years as an operations supervisor with FedEx Freight, planning and coordinating operations to meet the demands of an integral business network, learning the need for a vision and strong leadership to complete the tasks that need accomplished. He also studied at the University of Anchorage while stationed in Alaska during his military service, completing several leadership development programs for non-commissioned officers, and is currently studying economics at Youngstown State University.

Considering his experience the past 10 years, Siembida said he has learned the need for a strong vision and dedicated leadership when times look harsh, as well as how to execute sound judgment in critical decisions.

“One of my main attributes is the ability to get individuals to work together and solve difficult problems that would otherwise go unresolved,” he said.

After serving his country Siembida said he has chosen to raise his family in Leetonia.

“From my time spent overseas and traveling across this great country, I have seen the need for a caring community, dedicated leadership and a strong vision,” he said. “It is essential for our community to have a local government that spends every day preserving our beloved town and making it a better place for our families to live. Just as I felt the need to serve my country that I love, I have felt the need to serve the community that I love as well.”

He said that is why he is running for council as an independent who will always put Leetonia’s needs first- not the needs of a political party.

“I will continuously apply all my energy in helping to take our village to the next level,” he said. “I will provide the leadership needed to address the issues that have hindered our community in the past and the issues we will face in the future. I will work to fund our community programs without raising the city income tax. I will work with our community leaders and county leaders to bring our state tax dollars back home to Leetonia.”

Siembida lives with his girlfriend, Cassandra, on Ridge Street with their two children, who serve as his inspiration to ensure Leetonia will be a place to continue to raise a family.

– Dan Summers, incumbent, has served on council the past 12 years, currently as president. He is currently a sales consultant at Columbiana Buick Cadillac Chevrolet where he has been employed since 1983. He previously worked eight years as a meat cutter and union representative at Salem A&P Tea Company.

A 1968 Leetonia High School graduate, Summers also graduated from Kent State University where he qualified for an associates degree in general studies with an upper division concentration in psychology. He is a member and former commander of the Son of the American Legion Post 131, a 32nd degree Masonic Lodge and a member York Rite.

Citing his experience on council, as well as 30 years in business environment and a relationships with many people in and out of local and state government, Summers said he is willing to spend his time outside of meetings serving the village, but noted that he has only missed one meeting in the past 12 years.

“I have run and am running again because I want to give something back to the town that has been so wonderful to our family,” he said. “I don’t think the people of Leetonia can afford to elect or re-elect people who are not willing to spend more time than two meetings a month for the village.”

During his tenure, Summers said his biggest accomplishments include working with the zoning department to develop new policies, particularly in the landlord-tenant area, and obtaining over $4 million in grants which were used to improve infrastructure in the village and 23 acres for a park next to the Coke Ovens for which the village is close to securing an additional $500,000 in grants to develop with the Coke Ovens.

Summers also highlighted his ability to work hands on with the daily operation of the village, developing a respect with the mayor, administrator and department heads through emails with village officials, not just showing up at meetings twice a month.

If re-elected Summers said he will work with other council members and village officials to make decisions about the budget, appropriations, personnel and even the feasibility of putting water wells back online for a possible savings of tens of thousands of dollars.

“All my efforts will be based on four core values that I have based my previous 12 years of serving Leetonia…sincerity of effort, honesty of purpose, sacrifice for the larger good and integrity of action,” he said. “I promise each and every one of my actions will be based on these values.”

Summers and his wife, Beth, live on Walnut Street. They have five children and one granddaughter.