Commissioners disagree on politics of appointing park board

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning County Commissioners reacted to the idea that they might become the appointing authority for the Mill Creek Park board at a meeting on Thursday.

State representative John Boccieri plans to introduce a bill by mid-April that will make county commissioners statewide responsible for appointments to metroparks boards. Currently, a county probate judge makes the appointments.

Two Mahoning County commissioners disagreed on whether politics are involved, no matter who makes the appointment.

“We don’t just appoint boards, people on boards, politically,” said Carol Rimedio-Righetti. “We appoint them by bringing the people in from the different departments or the different boards that are needed, and they come in and help us interview.”

Boccieri agrees that this isn’t about politics, but Commissioner David Ditzler doesn’t think there’s a way to avoid it.

“I think whether a judge is making an appointment or a board of county commissioners is making an appointment, there are always politics involved,” Ditzler said. “Just because you’re judicial, it doesn’t mean you don’t run as a [Democrat] or [Republican] or have influence from your own political side.”

The Ohio General Assembly decided on the appointment process 100 years ago to give probate judges sole authority in choosing metroparks boards.

Probate Judge Robert Rusu said last week, he wants to get more people involved this time by creating a selection committee to help him decide who will replace Michael Senchak, who resigned last week. Ditzler says a change could be a good idea, because more voices are better than one.

“I think any time you can add more voices into the selection process, like a board of commissioners, you bring more personalities into it, you bring more input into it, you bring more accountability into it.”

Rimedio-Righetti says the commissioners will abide by the law, regardless of what state legislators decide.

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