There’s a new mayor tonight in Niles. Steve Mientkiewicz will show up to city hall in the morning as the new man in charge.
The vote by 11 of the city’s 12 precinct committee people was tight but in the end, the 34-year-old beat a man who was nominated from the floor.
Mientkiewicz started his day as Niles’ second ward councilman and shortly after 6 p.m., was sworn in as Niles’ next mayor. He replaces Tom Scarnecchia, who retired last month.
The process of electing Mientkiewicz began with Precinct Committeeman Bob Leonard nominating — from the floor — Niles policeman Jim Villecco.
Villecco was not among the 75 people at the meeting, some of whom stood outside the doors. One person questioned the legitimacy of nominating a person who wasn’t there.
“What if we have a vote and he wins, and he’s not here and he don’t want it?”
“By our procedure, that person’s name is now available to be written on the ballot,” said Parliamentarian Atty. Jeff Goodman.
Each of the ten candidates spoke with Councilwoman Linda Marchese, who is also a precinct committee person. She dropped out of the race herself because of her frustration with the process.
“It’s caused a lot of tension between everybody,” she said. “It’s made things totally, totally not acceptable in my world.”
Each precinct committee person then voted, with their votes kept secret. That, too, angered candidate George Kuriatnyk.
After the first ballot, Mientkiewicz had five votes, Villecco four and Acting Mayor Barry Steffey two. So a second ballot between Mientkiewicz and Villecco was required, which Mientkiewicz won six to five.
“We have a great town, a great community and we’re going to make this place great,” he said.
“I’ve worked side by side with him on council and he’s done an excellent job, and I know he will do a good job as our mayor,” Marchese said.
“I have 100 percent confidence in Mr. Mientkiewicz,” said Steffey, who is also council president. “He’s going to do a great job. I support him and I look forward to working with him.”
As far as if he’ll keep the same administration that served under Tom Scarnecchia, Mientkiewicz said he plans to meet on Thursday to decide what to do about the people under him.