New Castle seal

New Castle seal

New Castle City Council reiterated the importance of understanding Home Rule at the caucus meeting on Tuesday.

“I’m so worried,” Councilman Tim Fulkerson said. “There’s so much confusion and especially with the elderly.”

The city’s Act 47 coordinators will be hosting information sessions throughout the month to educate voters before the November elections.

City residents will be asked to vote whether to appoint a government study commission. Constituents will also need to vote on which seven candidates they’d like to be a part of the commission.

Fulkerson said when it was announced the session earmarked for Oct. 16 was no longer going to be held at Challenges, he received questions from elderly residents as to why.

“Just to let you know this, the day they announced this at Challenges, that there’s going to be this meeting at Challenges on Home Rule, the people there got very excited,” said MaryAnne Gavrile, a candidate for city council. “They have continually come to me about, ‘What’s Home Rule study?’”

“And now it’s being moved,” council President William Panella said.

The Oct. 16 session was moved to The Confluence and will be from 6 to 8 p.m., but Gavrile said that time and place will be difficult for elderly people to attend.

“You’re looking at an inconvenience to a large part of our population,” Gavrile said.

The Citywide Development Corporation hosted one of the city’s Act 47 coordinators Vieen Leung on Tuesday morning for the first installment of the educational sessions.

“When she (Leung) was half throughout it I said, ‘I wish I would have recorded her,’ because, to me, she was very, very basic about it,” said Stephanie Dean, the city’s business administrator.

Gavrile said Challenges would be capable of screening a video of an Act 47 coordinator explaining the process if a video was supplied to them.

“(Challenges) would be able to show it, at different times of the day even, you know, when there’s a large group there for exercise or there’s a lunch there and show it during these periods of time then people would be free to watch it,” Gavrile said.

If the government study commission is passed in this November, the elected members will have nine months to research and conclude whether they recommend a Home Rule Charter. The group will have another nine months to draft the document before it goes back to a vote in May 2021 on whether or not voters want to adopt the proposed charter. Only if the charter is accepted will the city be under Home Rule.

“There’s a fear out there,” Fulkerson said. “And we need to calm the fear.”


Maria Basileo is a news reporter. She covers Laurel and Shenango school boards and municipal government.

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