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January 28, 2014

Appointments to council more frequent recently

NEW CASTLE — Vacancies on New Castle City Council are not unusual.

They have occurred from time to time over the years. However, the city has experienced an unusual number over the last five years.

When Paul Stefano was appointed last week to council, he became the fourth person to join council in that manner during that stretch.

The current string of vacancies began in 2008 with the resignation of Chet Orelli Jr.

Under state law, the remaining members of council have 30 days from the time a vacancy occurs to appoint someone. If it fails to do so, common pleas court will make the appointment.

Council appointed former councilman John Russo Jr. in September 2008 to complete Orelli’s term, which ran through the end of 2009.

Will Quimby, who was re-elected to a second term on council in 2007, resigned in July 2009.

He was replaced the next month by Richard Costello, another former council member. Costello served through the end of 2009.

Because a municipal election was scheduled for November 2009, state law required that voters elect a candidate to complete the final two years of Quimby’s term.

The Democratic and Republican county committees each had the opportunity to nominate one candidate to be on the ballot. Democrats selected Richard Beshero, who was elected to the two-year term. Beshero then ran successfully in 2011 for a four-year term.

In 2011, Gary Mitchell was one of three candidates elected to four-year terms. Voters elected him despite the probability that he would not be able to serve because he had been convicted of a felony. State law prohibits people with felony convictions to serve in elected office.

The matter went before the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas and in 2012 Judge John W. Hodge ruled Mitchell was ineligible to serve. Council subsequently appointed Thomas Smith in March 2012 to serve through the end of 2013.

That left two years remaining on Mitchell’s term, meaning voters would need to elect someone to a two–year term in the November 2013 election.

Four candidates ran for the position in the May primary. Anthony Adamo, a Democrat, won nominations to both four- and two-year terms in the May primary. He was elected to both offices in November.

Because he could hold only one of them, he chose the four-year term, creating the vacancy filled by Stefano.


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