WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) - When the list of candidates running in the May primary was released last week, Dan Sferra's name was noticeably missing. The current Warren City councilman, who was also the city's mayor and state representative, decided that after 16 elections and 48 years in and out of politics, it was time to retire.
Sferra was first elected as Fifth Ward councilman in 1972 at the age of 21 because he opposed the federal government's subsidized housing projects.
"My councilman voted for it. If he'd have voted against it, I wouldn't have run. So I ran against him," Sferra said.
And Sferra won, starting a political career that would continue on and off for 48 years, including 16 elections -- only two of which he lost.
"It was a good, clean campaign and I commend them for running a good campaign," he said on Election Night in 1991.
That was after winning what would be his final term as Warren mayor, the political position he held the longest -- 16 years.
His toughest political fight as mayor was trying to convince people to build the Trumbull Correctional Institute.
"I know I caught a lot of hell when we built the prison out in Leavittsburg. People wanted to kill me."
He said now that it's been there for 25 years, "you don't even know it's there."
Warren has changed, though. It's not the same city it was 50 years ago.
"That's why when anyone asked me, 'What's wrong with Warren?' I tell them to drive down Dana Street. There was 4,000 people working on that section of the north end between GE and Packard, all making good money."
Sferra's four years as a state representative were his least favorite in politics.
"The Republicans had control and they basically told us Democrats, 'Shut up and sit down,' and I wasn't used to that."
Even though he's spent the last ten years as Warren councilman-at-large, people still remember him as the mayor.
"The only thing is after all these years, I'm still called mayor. You never lose the title as mayor."
Sferra's decision to retire came just recently.
"It was probably a month or two ago. I was sitting there and I was saying to myself, 'You've been here since '72. You've been coming to these meetings all these years on Wednesdays and committee meetings,' and I'm at the age, I just said, 'That's enough.'"
The 69-year-old said he will not run for another political office again. He said he doesn't have the energy of some of the younger councilmen around him and didn't just want to fill a seat because he could.
Sferra admitted his last meeting in December will be sad, but it's time to move on.