Two veteran politicians face off for Struthers mayor
Between them, Mayor Daniel Mamula and Councilman Terry Stocker have nearly 40 years of service as elected officials in Struthers.
Stocker, 59, has been a ward and at-large councilman for 17 years. Mamula, 63, has been mayor for 15 years and was a councilman for eight years before that.
There is no reason for an informed Struthers voter not to know at least something about these candidates in the May 8 Democratic mayoral primary.
It became clear during the endorsement interviews of both by Vindicator editors and reporters that while their time of service to Struthers voters is roughly the same, there is a gap in the depth of their vision for the city.
Mamula's strong suit
Mamula has both a short- and long-range plan for the city, one he has been working on. He has a record of accomplishment, solid credentials that are recognized by others who are working toward revitalization of the Mahoning Valley and a commitment to finish the job he has begun.
Stocker, on the other hand, accuses Mamula of having lost touch with Struthers and promises new ideas and new leadership without providing much evidence that he would provide either.
He says his top priority is to be accessible to the public as a full-time mayor and complains that Mamula isn't in his office much of the time.
Mamula counters that he serves the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp., Eastgate Transportation, Mahoning River Consortium and CASTLO boards, all of which are vital to bringing development and jobs to the city. Residents, he says, have no trouble getting in touch with him when they need to, but he does not intend to sit in the office waiting for someone to call.
Whatever time Mamula has spent out of the office has apparently been well spent. Much of the brownfield land in Struthers has been remediated, roads and bridges have been constructed to provide access, and Mamula predicts those efforts will bear fruit in the way of redevelopment and new buildings in the not-too-distant future.
Mamula believes strongly in redevelopment and at a recent meeting of area mayors, he argued that, "Brownfield cleanup is intricately linked to urban redevelopment here and in industrial cities across the country. If we are serious about urban redevelopment ... we need to work together to get the federal brownfield program reauthorized and better funded."
Wearing two hats
As both the city's mayor and its economic development pointman, he takes at least partial credit for bringing 18 million in competitive grants for infrastructure, 2 million in environment projects and 7 million in community development grants to Struthers.
Mamula is the longest serving mayor in the city's history, and he has served through some of its most difficult times. He's proud of the role he has played in keeping the city financially stable.
He says he wants to continue to serve as long as he believes he is making a difference.
Stocker can certainly be proud of his long service on council, and his record as a vote-getter in council races. But that doesn't trump the work that Mamula has done and the work he says he will continue to do.
The Vindicator's endorsement for mayor of Struthers goes to Mamula.