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Canfield voters: Meet your future mayor this week

Canfield voters can learn more about the city's three mayoral candidates, as well as two renewal levies for police and fire and changes to the city's charter, during an informational session this week.
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Shown here is the exterior of the Francis J. McLaughlin Municipal Building, 104 Lisbon St., Canfield. (Justin Dennis | Mahoning Matters)

CANFIELD — City residents can meet their future mayor Wednesday evening.

A public forum on the ballot items to be put to Canfield voters in the Nov. 2 general election is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at city hall, the Francis J. McLaughlin Municipal Building, 104 Lisbon St.

Attendees can hear from the three candidates seeking the mayor’s seat: Donald Dragish, Bruce Neff and Kathryn Young.

Neff is currently a city council member. He was first elected to that seat in 2017.

Outgoing Mayor Richard Duffett, also elected to his first term in 2017, announced in June he would not seek re-election.

City voters can also learn about two renewal levies on their ballots: A 3.9-mill, five-year levy for the police department and a 0.42-mill, five-year levy for the Cardinal Joint Fire District.

If the 3.9-mill police department levy is renewed, the owner of a property valued at $100,000 would continue paying $136.50 per year; $682.50 over five years.

If the 0.42-mill fire department levy is renewed, the owner of a property valued at $100,000 would continue paying $14.70 per year; $73.50 over five years.

Also up for a referendum are multiple amendments to the Canfield City charter.

The first proposed amendment would change term limitations for city council members including the mayor, allowing them to serve no more than two consecutive two-year terms. Currently, the charter allows council members and the mayor to serve up to four consecutive four-year terms.

Term-limited council members would be able to run again after sitting out at least one term.

The second proposed amendment creates a new section of the charter allowing voters to remove the city manager from office, but only after the manager has spent at least six months in the role. The removal vote would function like a recall election for an elected official.

A city manager removed from office in this manner would remain ineligible for rehire to the position for at least four years, though they would still be able to run for elected office.

The third proposed amendment would prohibit the city’s “managerial” employees from putting city funds or resources — including work time — toward political efforts, like the nomination of candidates or levy campaigns.

“Managerial” employees include the city manager or assistant or deputy managers, the city’s directors of public safety, service and finance, the police chief, the public works superintendent, the municipal attorney and any other employee with managerial or supervisory responsibilities.

"Any action by a managerial employee to restrain, coerce, intimidate or direct any employee of the municipality to further any of the foregoing shall be considered a violation of this section,” the proposed amendment reads.

Employees who violate the new policy would forfeit their position and be ineligible for rehire for at least five years.

Under the new rule, employees charged with this violation could be removed in the same manner as council members would remove the city manager. That’s by a majority vote of council, according to the current city charter.

If the employee has been in the position less than six months, they could be removed without a public hearing. If they have been in the position longer than six months, council members may instead choose to suspend them for up to 45 days.

Justin Dennis

About the Author: Justin Dennis

Justin Dennis has been on the beat since 2011, covering crime, courts and public education. Dennis grew up in Poland and Salem and studied journalism and communications at Cleveland State University and University of Pittsburgh.
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