Three seeking 6th Ward seat

STEUBENVILLE – Three men are seeking the Democrat nomination for the Steubenville 6th Ward council seat in the May 7 primary election.

No Republicans have filed for the race.

Robert Chapman of 123 Aberdeen Road, Daniel Thorne Jr. of 309 Buena Vista Blvd. and Bob Villamagna of 125 Marion Place are hoping to replace incumbent Councilman David Lalich who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election.

Thorne did not return several messages asking for an interview.

The 59-year-old Chapman said he is asking for voters’ support, ” because I believe it is time to give back to the community.”

Chapman is stressing his experience, training and education during his campaign.

“I believe I have a lot to offer the citizens of the 6th Ward and the city because of my financial and managerial background. As far as community related service, I am currently serving as the president of the JB Green Team board of trustees and was chairman of the Community Improvement Corporation,” said Chapman.

“I realize I would be one of seven who has a vote on City Council. So I would need at least four other council members to think the same way on the issues,” he noted.

“My first priority, if elected, is to fix the budget and the water fund that is also in trouble. We also need to fix the city’s tarnished image. At the same time we have the issue of safety in our community. The question we have is how does the city afford additional police manpower given the limited budget,” Chapman said.

“We need to go back and look at the city’s declining revenue and increasing expenses. We need to look at potential economic development in the city’s south end and near the Fort Steuben Mall area. We also need to make sure we are collecting our city taxes from people working in the city and city residents who work elsewhere. I also believe the malfunctioning business and residential water meters that are still under warranty should be fixed immediately,” explained Chapman.

“We also need to get our delinquent water bills under control. And I believe the city should start strategic planning. We all need to do some better planning for the city. As I have walked through the 6th Ward I am finding a lot of residents aren’t happy with City Council and our government. I want to make residents part of the decision making process,” he noted.

“We have a lot of positives in our community, including Franciscan University, Eastern Gateway Community College and a great health care system with Trinity Medical hospitals. We need to leverage our positive assets and promote those for our city,” Chapman said.

“I also want to say I can’t clean up the 6th Ward without fixing the city’s budget and management. When I was younger I worked for the city of Mingo Junction summer youth program. I know what it is like to ride on the back of the sanitation truck or work on patching streets. I understand what it is like to do the work,” cited Chapman.

Villamagna said the biggest part of his campaign is talking to people.

“I know a lot of people in the city and I like to talk with people and listen to people. So I have spent even more time going door to door because I enjoy people,” Villamagna explained.

As a young high school graduate Villamagna started working at the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. in 1973.

“I worked at the Follansbee plant, was laid off and went to the Steubenville plant as a transfer employee. I was always the youngest person, so I asked my dad for advice. He told me the steel industry would be closing in a matter of years and I should look for another career, so I took the Civil Service exam for a police department position,” related Villamagna.

“I actually started with the police department and was still working night turn in the mill. The personnel woman called me and said I had to make a decision on which job I wanted. So I stayed with the police department and retired from there in 2002,” said Villamagna.

And Villamagna also joined the International Laborer’s Union in 1991 and worked jobs in the local steel companies until he retired earlier this year.

“I am 58 years old, retired and ready to give back. I have been attending City Council meetings for more than a year because I wanted to educate myself on the city issues. And as I sat in the council meetings I realized the city is going in the wrong direction. When Willie Paul and Kenny Davis were elected to the council I saw two younger guys with motivation to make the city a better place. I also look at Gerald DiLoreto, Greg Metcalf and Angie Suggs and I know I can be a team player with them for the future of our city,” said Villamagna.

“I didn’t make the decision to run for council lightly. I thought about this for some time and sat down with my wife and said we could sell our house now and move, sell our house later and lose money or stay here and try to make a difference,” said Villamagna.

“If I am elected one of my first goals will be to change the city’s appearance. I spent a day riding a Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority bus, and this town is filthy. What I saw on some streets of LaBelle and Pleasant Heights was appalling. I would see someone sweeping the sidewalk in front of their house and a pile of trash in front of the house next door. And the high amount of traffic in those neighborhoods is a lot different from when I was a kid growing up in Steubenville,” he said.

“I believe our town must be taken back from the drug dealers. No outside company is going to come to Steubenville with the current trouble. We need a strong police department and a police presence. We may have to look at cuts elsewhere in order to allocate more money to the police department,” Villamagna said.

“Our roads are deplorable. Lovers Lane and John Scott Highway are a disgrace. Those roads should not have been allowed to get to the current state. Everyone has been talking, but the time for talk is past. It is time for action. I can’t change the city by myself. It will take a team effort of all of the council members and the city residents. I want to do the right thing for our city. A lot of people may not like my decisions, and a lot of people will like them. It is time for some tough decisions and I plan on making the right decisions. I have no personal agenda. But I understand this city,” stated Villamagna.

“I also feel we should hold council meetings in the different wards of the city. Hold a meeting on LaBelle and walk out after the meeting at 9 p.m. and know how the people who live in that neighborhood feel. We need a true zero tolerance approach to the criminal elements in our city. We need to let those criminals know they won’t be tolerated,” he said.

“My only pledge to the residents is I will look everyone in the eye and won’t make promises I can’t keep. I will do my best,” Villamagna said.