“Ladies and gentlemen the smoke has not risen tonight,” Trustee Dan Suttles said, using a reference about how the pope is selected to announce that he and Trustee Mark Ferrara had been unable to decide on who will be the next trustee.
The trustees spent 90 minutes interviewing 12 candidates on Dec. 7, and then 30 minutes in executive session discussing them. They plan to reconvene at 5 p.m. Friday, go into executive session to further mull the candidates, and then appoint someone to a one-year term to replace Ron Haun, who resigned.
“Hopefully, that session won’t take too long and we can make a decision on Friday,” Suttles said. “I’m very confident that we’ll come to a decision.”
“In fairness to everyone, we need to sleep on it, and that’s why we’re asking for a little more time,” Ferrara said. “If we didn’t have this many candidates who were qualified, we’d have a much easier decision.”
Suttles noted that, by law, he and Ferrara are not allowed to discuss the candidates together outside of a properly advertised meeting.
“The last thing I want to do is make a decision quickly, because these folks put their efforts in,” Suttles said. “We owe it to them.”
The trustees have 30 days from the effective date of Haun’s resignation, Nov. 15, to appoint a third member, or the matter goes to Trumbull County Probate Court.
“We want to come to a decision by the 15th,” Suttles said, “because if we don’t come to a decision, somebody that’s sitting over at the county seat is gonna decide who the next representative’s gonna be. We certainly don’t want that.”
“It was a very transparent process,” Ferrara said. “It was a very difficult process. We’ve had 12 interesting, qualified candidates.”
The trustees interviewed:
- Shannon Devitz, who noted that she currently sits on the boards of the Brookfield Exterior Property Maintenance Board of Appeals and the Brookfield Township Historic Commission, was a member of the road levy and zoning committees, and initiated the historical commission’s veterans banner initiative.
- Dustin Ghizzoni, who said he would be a “place holder” trustee, unwilling to push an agenda because he has not been vetted by the public, but who would plan to run at the end of the term.
- Timothy M. Gladis, a former Brookfield police chief and Trumbull County 911 director, who said he would build on the current trustees’ initiatives to improve trust in the community and transparency.
- Catherine Hodge, who said she would work to bring more business to town and beautify the community.
- Josilyn Kirila, who said she already is immersed in the two pillars of the community as a small business person – her fiance, Matthew Chu, owns Belly Buster Sub Shop, Brookfield – and Brookfield High School robotics and industry teacher.
- Frederick L. Longley, who said he was a town councilman in Arizona before returning to Brookfield, and would try to represent the wants and needs of township residents.
- Dion Magestro, who said that, as a former Brookfield trustee, he would not have a learning curve and could jump into what he said are the trustees’ big issues for the next year: ongoing negotiations with each of the three township unions, discussions of how to spend the township’s allocation of American Rescue Plan funds and implementing the recently passed road levy.
- John Martin, who described himself as a problem solver who can work with anyone, and is not a procrastinator or a couch potato.
- John P. O’Brien, who said that he has worked through government red tape and other complexities to develop businesses and construction projects.
- Roseann Sereday, who noted her 40 years as co-owner of Sereday Trucking, Masury; experience in negotiating and working with governments; and years of rehabilitating rental properties to keep up the town’s housing stock.
- Robert C. Wilson, who touted his banking experience and desire to build on things already in place – such as the trustees’ neighborhood meetings and annual Easter egg hunt – to attract new business and residents.
- Blake Yendrek, who promoted his youth – he’s a 2019 Brookfield High graduate who developed an interest in local government in his government class – as appealing to a different generation, and wanting to get that generation more involved.
Gladis charitably said the trustees can’t make a wrong decision because each of the candidates brings something different to the job.
“The process is really fair,” Longley said. “It’s open. I have to commend you guys.”