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SHARON Council picks businessman to fill seat left by Rutunnno

By Harold Gwin

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Sixteen candidates interviewed for the seat.
SHARON, Pa. -- "Winning back our neighborhoods" is the No. 1 priority for Sharon's newest councilman.
Darin D. Flower, 41, of South Myers Ave., a partner in Flower Lumber Co. on Dock Street, was selected Tuesday from a field of 16 candidates to fill a two-year position in the unexpired term of the late Lou Rotunno, who died in November.
All 16 candidates were interviewed by council members Fred Hoffman, Chris Outrakis and Bob Lucas on Monday, and nearly all came back to council's special meeting Tuesday to see who got the appointment.
"It was a very, very difficult choice after listening to you all. It was a great civics lesson," said Lucas, before making the motion to name Flower to the seat. Hoffman seconded the motion and it passed 2-1.
Outrakis cast the dissenting vote, saying later that the Sharon Democrat Committee had endorsed Tom Hall, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat last year, for the post and she supported him. Outrakis is chairman of the Democrat Committee.
Flower's statement
Flower, also a Democrat, said he brings a youthful vigor to the job and a common-sense approach to dealing with problems.
Strong, safe residential neighborhoods are something he wants and that could require stronger code enforcement efforts to help clean them up, he said. Flower said he would like to reinstitute the walking tours initiated by former Mayor Robert T. Price to get the code officers, fire chief and others out into the neighborhoods.
He helped start a neighborhood crime watch in his own area and said he would like to see residential streets hold block parties to build neighborhood strength.
Sharon has a lot of services to offer and needs to be more aggressive in marketing its downtown business district, he said.
He added that he was pleased to see the recent resurrection of the Greater Sharon Associates, an association of city merchants.
The city needs to target small companies to foster job creation rather than spend its efforts trying to attract the "big players," Flower said.
There is a proposal afoot for Sharon and Farrell to talk about a possible municipal consolidation or increased shared services.
Flower said that is definitely something the city should look into.
Committee questions
His selection to fill the council seat raised some questions from members of the Sharon Democrat Committee.
Joseph Baldwin, a former city councilman himself, asked if any consideration was given to the committee's recommendation.
Both Lucas and Hoffman said it was a factor but not the deciding factor.
Flower will take his oath of office at a later date.
Council has one more two-year seat to fill resulting from the death earlier this month of Councilman George Gulla.
Outrakis said she will hold another committee meeting to come up with a recommendation for council to consider for that slot.
All 15 candidates interviewed with Flower have asked to be considered for that appointment as well.
Hoffman said they won't have to be interviewed again, but anyone else interested in applying for the job should submit a letter of interest to the city clerk by Feb. 6.
Any additional interviews and a special meeting to make an appointment will be held Feb. 9, he said.