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Income Tax Dept. may depend on Nov. 5 election

To the editor:

Through the long debate on The Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA), Salem voters now have the opportunity to make their voices heard by voting for true Independents on Nov. 5.

Based on party affiliation of the current council members, and the recent endorsement of my opponent by Mayor Berlin and the Republican party, it would appear that unless all Independents are elected for the Ward Representatives, RITA will be Salem’s future.

Speaking for myself, I was pressured to commit my support for RITA in writing two years ago on a Columbiana County GOP questionnaire of candidates. My refusal to commit a firm position on issues which had not been fully vetted or convened upon yet in council, was a large part of why the party supported a late-filing “Independent” in place of me. That same candidate recently wrote a letter to the editor in full support of RITA. Coincidence?

To be fair, Mr. Salvino’s example of the city of Niles’ “$1 million” additional revenue or 2.5% increase due to RITA in 2018 (as stated in the same article on WFMJ.com) sounds great. I also found an article from The Tribune which stated that $9 million was collected overall in 2018 and that $500,000 was from delinquent taxes. The math doesn’t add up, (2.5% increase would only be $1M if the total amount was $40M) which isn’t surprising from a city which spent five years in fiscal emergency and whose mayor was convicted for 10 years due to theft in office and records tampering among other things. In fact, both Niles and Girard have been in fiscal emergency within the past eight years. So I’m not sure why they were cited as great examples of RITA success.

We simply must move away from partisanship games and elect those with true independent thoughts. Those who will vote their neighbors’ interests versus those funded by and therefore dictated by party leaders in the back room of a downtown restaurant. When you are supported by a party, you are expected to support the party’s views. That’s politics. When you vote for true Independent candidates, they will support what is best for their neighbors. That’s community service.

Brian Whitehill,

Independent candidate for Salem 4th Ward

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