5 seek seats on Smith Twp. board of trustees

SMITH TWP. – Five candidates will compete for two seats on the township’s board of trustees Tuesday.

Those running include incumbent Dave Mannion and hopefuls Terry Criss, Bob Custar, Michael Sosnick and Scott Showalter.

– Terry Criss, a West Branch graduate and lifelong resident of the area, has spent the past 12 years on the West Branch school board, choosing to run for trustee as his term on the board expires at the end of the year. He has served as vice president of Apex Control Systems since 1992.

Criss said he feels the biggest issue facing the township is how to address funding, repairing roads and maintaining a strong police department, which he said can be dealt with by studying the current expenditures and finding alternative sources of funding, if needed.

“Find creative ways to accomplish our goals,” he said.

Holding a degree in electrical engineering from Kent State University, Criss said his experience as a past owner of a small business and current position of vice president in a local company, as well as his time on the West Branch school board and various committees as his local church, has taught him how to identify and solve issues.

“We need to constantly look at new and innovative ways to keep our costs down without eliminating essential services,” he said. “We need to be looking at creative ways to create jobs to entice people to move (to) or stay in this area.”

Criss lives with his wife, Caroline, on Beloit Snodes Road south of Beloit. They have three sons.

– Bob Custar, a West Branch graduate, has worked the past 12 years in public service, including the past five as a highway technician with the Ohio Department of Transportation. A state certified diesel tech, he has also held positions such as mechanic, traffic maintenance and plan and ready snow/ice removal.

A self-employed farmer, Custar cited as reasons for his qualified candidacy his public service experience and lifelong residency in the area, as well as certifications that include aggregate and concrete, industrial vegetation licenses, training in sediment and erosion flexible pavement earthwork surveying, traffic maintenance and heavy equipment training.

“I feel my certifications and background in public services along with working with the community allow me to be a great candidate for the trustee position,” he said. “My extensive background and training in public services allows me to be the best decision for Smith Township trustee and a great steward of the residents of Smith Township.”

Custar said he is well-rounded and trustworthy, and will listen to the concerns and questions of the community, working with the residents to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Custar lives with his wife on Bandy Road south of the Maple Ridge area. They have four children and four grandchildren. He is a member of the Sebring VFW.

– Dave Mannion, incumbent, has been a trustee since 2006. He has served as the chief financial officer for Copeland Oaks Retirement Community for 19 years and spent the previous nine in the hotel industry including Marriott Corp.

An honors graduate from Springfield Local with a bachelor’s degree in business administration (major in accounting and minor in economics and management) from Youngstown State University, Mannion is very active in the community, serving as board president of the Sebring West Branch Community Foundation, chairman of the Mahoning County Health Advisory Council to which he was appointed by the county Township Trustees Association, board member of the Grandview Cemetery, member and past president of the Beloit Ruritans, member of the Beloit Area Historical Society, treasurer of the Greater Alliance Area Development Corporation, Mahoning County Green Team roadside cleanup sponsor and former member of the Stark Development Board to which he was appointed in 2009.

Mannion cited his work and community service experience, as well as his position on the Health District Advisory Council, which he said gives a voice to the township with the board of health to ensure continued landfill inspections and well water testing, as his qualifications for the position.

“[I] Demonstrated commitment to community long before seeking elected position,” he said. “[I’ve] Demonstrated ability and energy to raise private donation money for park improvements (ran JFK Ultra 50 mile marathon to raise 100 percent of funds needed to build new pavilion at Maple Ridge Park). I treat every resident with the respect and courtesy that you would expect from a public servant.”

Noting that he has refused the township health insurance benefit every year since elected, saving taxpayers approximately $120,000, Mannion said his biggest accomplishments during his tenure include leading a team that has brought $4.8 million in infrastructure improvements, with over $4.5 million from outside funding sources; an extensive expansion of water and sewer access to the Maple Ridge and east Alliance area; and leading a team that has worked with the health department to help clean up over 70 township properties. He said that the trustees are currently in the process of developing a viable long-term improvement strategy with the new county engineer to address that condition of county roadways in the township and have started clean up of abandoned homes.

Mannion lives with his wife, Mariann, on North 12th Street. They have four children.

– Micahel Sosnick, a West Branch graduate, is the owner of Sosnick Septic Service. He said his qualifications for trustee include living and working in the township his entire life and operating a business that serves the community.

Sosnick lives with his wife, Paula, on West Middletown Road north of Sebring. They have two children.

– Scott Showalter is a graduate of Conneaut High School and Kent State University with a criminal justice and pre-law degree. He is currently employed as a health care software project manager with GBS Computer Solutions in Youngstown, with previous employment including the Ashtabula County Engineer’s Office and the Ohio Department of Transportation, as well as the sales and service industry in various markets and industries.

Active in his children’s school and extra-curricular activities, including coaching soccer teams, Showalter said he is a strong believer in civic responsibility and setting an example in community service for his children. He said his experience with the engineer’s office and ODOT, as well as that from his sales and service work, has given him a knowledge of road construction and maintenance and how to be persistent and work hard to acquire grants and funding to help generate revenue and attract businesses to the community.

With two school-aged children in the West Branch district, Showalter said he has many years left in the community.

“I will be dedicated to listening to the concerns of our citizens and helping the township be a desirable place to work, live and raise a family,” he said.

Showalter lives with his wife, Julie, and their two children on West Middletown Road north of Beloit.