Name: Mauro Cantalamessa
City of Residence: Warren
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Office Desired: Commissioner
Facebook: Cantalamessa for Trumbull County
Why should you be elected
My background as a former educator and current small business owner has allowed me a unique perspective in dealing with county budgeting, appropriating, taxing, and purchasing.
I say that because I’ve spent time on both sides of the aisle.
I’ve worked in both the public and private sector.
I’ve been a member of one of the most established and powerful labor unions in the public sector. But I’ve also been self-employed and had to manage a staff as well as turn a profit in the private sector.
Top three priorities
1) Transparency/Accountability – Transparency and accountability in government allows citizens the ability to understand the functions and services our county delivers. Therefore, transparency promotes active participation and a greater sense of ownership on the part of the citizenry.
A critical example of our emphasis on accountability was our participation in the Ohio State Treasurer’s initiative, Ohiocheckbook.com. Trumbull County was one of the first counties in the entire state to sign up for and implement this program.
Another example of how the county has taken a more active approach in enhancing transparency is through our modified hiring practices. Job openings are posted online as well as the Tribune Chronicle. This gives more people the opportunity to know when jobs are available and allows us to choose from a greater array of applicants.
Recently, I was also instrumental in implementing a policy regarding how all upper level management was to be hired. Through selected committees we were able to hire two very qualified and experienced individuals in two very key positions, Human Resources Director and Sanitary Engineers Controller. The names of all the applicants for both positions were redacted to avoid any notion partiality or appearance of impropriety.
2) Economic Development – Economic development comes in many different forms and has rather broad connotations. There are several different aspects of economic development. Two critically important aspects of economic development are infrastructure investment and job retention and expansion. Infrastructure improvement and development remain important priorities for Trumbull County’s overall economic future as well as our health and public safety.
Our Blueprint to Prosperity Water Initiative has the potential to address both of these concerns in Trumbull County’s western corridor. This initiative has the potential to have the greatest impact of any single project to date within our county. The primary focus is potable and clean water to the Village of West Farmington. However, by working closely with the Ohio EPA, the Trumbull County Sanitary Engineer, and both our State Representatives Sean O’Brien and Michael O’Brien, we may potentially supply water to parts of other townships as well (Braceville, Southington, and Farmington).
Specifically the project includes the extension of a new public water line to the Village of West Farmington and other said communities between Newton Falls and West Farmington. Depending on the level of interest and capacity, a secondary water line may be established along the 422 corridor between the City of Warren and Southington Township. Along with our Sanitary Engineer, we will continue to review the construction scope, cost, funding, and potential service area in order to make this project a reality. In securing a 0% interest 30 year loan and 50% principal forgiveness, we can make this project a reality.
Our goal is to retire the entire debt through usage rates and service connection fees alone. This is a unique and aggressive funding methodology that has never been attempted in our county. The county will NOT be assessing the front footage of any of the potential customers in order to pay for the project. Furthermore, there is no cost or obligation to those that are not interested in the public water service. Once again this project would not be possible without the commitment from the Ohio EPA and the diligent work of all the aforementioned individuals and agencies.
In the same spirit of collaboration and cooperation, The Trumbull County Board of Commissioners along with Howland Township, the City of Warren, and the Trumbull County Engineer have been continuing a project now known as The Golden Triangle. From its naissance, this project was meant to target an area of land geographically located in both Howland Township and the City of Warren that houses manufacturing, industrial, and warehouse facilities. This area, despite significant job loss over the years, must remain a vital industrial hub for current and perspective businesses. With over 30 businesses and roughly 2,000 jobs we must continue to remain vigilant in identifying and prioritizing the Golden Triangle’s infrastructure needs to preserve jobs and create an environment for growth.
Initially there was a Brownfield Grant awarded to the coalition through the US EPA for $400,000 that was used for environmental studies and remediation. The Western Reserve Port Authority, the Trumbull County Planning Commission, as well as our Grants Manager Julie Green were then able to secure another $40,000 through the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA grant) that has gone towards a final project plan of $75,000. These dollars were used to hire a qualified consultant (AECOM) in order to outline a plan for modernizing infrastructure. That plan was designed with the input and consideration of our existing businesses located in the Golden Triangle.
Some of the nine-point plan involves developing a storm water retention system, widening roads to facilitate truck traffic, implementing more effective and aesthetic signage. The total cost of the plan is nearly $10 million and our next step is to meet with GROW Mahoning Valley in order to rank it among regional projects and priorities. This will be an on-going initiative and priority for all the partners involved. The obvious objective is to preserve existing businesses and encourage potential growth.
3) Fiscal Responsibility – For the past two years our Board has maintained effective levels of service throughout all our departments. We recognize that careful and conservative financial management is crucial to our county’s success. I believe in government that continually strives to work smarter and accomplish more with less. This philosophy was put to the test when the county was faced with a potential sales tax increase. We were determined to hold the line and remain at our current 6.75% rate. I am proud of the fact that out of 88 counties in Ohio, Trumbull County’s sales tax rate remains the same or lower than 64 other counties. We knew, however, that proactive and creative measures had to be taken. This marked the beginning of our Shop Trumbull County initiative. This creative concept aimed to increase revenue through education and awareness and not the imposition of a higher tax rate.
In partnering with some local businesses and media outlets we aim to raise awareness on the importance of shopping in our county. Through this initiative we continue to stress that every dollar spent in Trumbull County goes toward necessary services; services like road patrol in our Sheriff’s department or improvements to our dog pound. The response has been positive and, to date, we have seen a steady increase of approximately 2-3% from where we were last year. Also, we continue to explore the possibilities of sharing more services, cross-training more employees, and combining certain positions. The goal is to maintain or possibly even reduce staffing through attrition in the years to come.
With the cuts to local government funding from the state and more potential loss of revenue from the federal government (starting July 1st 2017 Ohio will no longer charge a Medicaid sales tax, costing Trumbull County upwards of $2.5 million), we must continue efforts to streamline local government. One example of how we are moving to accomplish this is the combination of the sanitary engineers position with that of the highway engineer. The long term benefits and savings on salary and shared equipment will continue to be realized in the coming years. Also, having one “point person” for both departments makes communication easier and more effective on a wide array of infrastructure projects.
To continue to effect change in our community and positively influence the lives of our citizenry.
Bachelor of Arts | 2000 | John Carroll University
• Major: English
• Minor: History
Secondary Education Teaching Certificate | 2001 | Youngstown State University
• Major: Grades (7-12)
Skills & Abilities
• Bringing private sector management experience to county government in cross-training employees, sharing services, and regionalizing as ways to accomplish more with less.
• Initiated more transparent and inclusive hiring policies and implemented the states Transparency Initiative known as ohiocheckbook.gov
• Held line on increase of sales tax and helped create the Shop Trumbull County Campaign that continues to revenue and educates citizens on the importance of keeping tax dollars local.
Trumbull County Commissioner | Trumbull County | 2014-Present
• The public administrative body for county government and authority included, but not limited to, taxing, purchasing, budgeting, and appropriating.
Owner/Operator | Enzos Restaurant | 2003-Present
• Coordinate and manage operations related to scheduling, hiring, inventory, and customer service.
High School Teacher | Austintown School District | 2003-2005
• Planned lessons, assessed and evaluated student abilities, and generally instructed student as an entire class or small groups