EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – Before Feb. 3, few people outside of East Palestine could have named its mayor. But after the train derailed, Mayor Trent Conaway became one of the faces of the village, as did Misti Allison, who spoke loudly on behalf of the residents.

Now, Allison wants Conaway’s job as mayor.

“The mayor’s in a great position to unite the community and to be able to essentially be the spokesperson for the town,” said Allison. “I think I’m uniquely qualified to do that, especially with some of the advocacy work that I’ve done.”

Conaway said he considered not running for re-election, but only for a second.

“I want to finish what I started,” said Conaway. “I think there’s a need in the community to finish up some of the projects that have been ongoing and finish up this derailment.”

Conaway will be running for his second term as mayor. He graduated from East Palestine High School in 1998, lived for 10 years nearby in Negley and then moved back to East Palestine in 2004.

Allison is from the Columbus area and moved to East Palestine four years ago with her husband and two children. Her husband is from East Palestine. It will be her first try at a political office.

While Allison said she’s “not disappointed with Mayor Conaway,” she also was adamant that she could do a better job as mayor.

“I think there are examples where the communication aspect could be definitely improved upon,” said Allison. “I think that is something I could definitely help with.”

Conaway disagreed that communication could be improved. He said city workers answer every question that comes to them, based on what they’re told by Norfolk Southern, the EPA and other experts.

“It seems like people don’t want to hear those answers,” said Conaway. “They want to hear the answers they want to hear. So, no matter what information we tell them, they’re not going to believe it.”

When discussing the response of Norfolk Southern, Conaway recalled the night the evacuation order was lifted and trains immediately started running again.

“I just blew up. I was right on the phone with them. I told [Norfolk Southern President and CEO] Alan Shaw that is unacceptable,” said Conaway.

But since that night, Conaway said of Norfolk Southern, “they’ve pretty much done OK.”

Allison said she has had lunch with Shaw, saying, “I would not want his job at all.” But she has an issue with Norfolk Southern.

“Norfolk Southern has said time and time again that they are going to make it right,” said Allison. “What I always say is, who gets to determine the litmus test for what is right here? What I want to do when I’m mayor is to really make sure that all of the residents get to be the ones who say what they think is right.”

As mayor, however, Conaway said it’s not always as easy as asking the right questions. For example, the house cleaning program recently put in place by the EPA — Conaway wanted more.

“Do I think it’s perfect? No, absolutely not. I don’t think it’s quite enough. We voiced our concerns, but it hasn’t gone very far,” said Conaway.

Conaway and Allison are both fully aware that the next four years will be pivotal to the future of East Palestine.

“I do feel like I have a strong ability to communicate with so many different people,” said Allison, “and to unite everybody and to listen and to ask those tough questions.”

Conaway is hoping the people of East Palestine consider what he has already done.

“I hope people have seen what I’ve went through and what I’ve put my family through and all the personal challenges I’ve had over the past six months, and I still stuck it out here,” said Conaway.

The East Palestine mayor’s race is nonpartisan, but both Conaway and Allison say they are Republicans.

The job pays $250 a month.