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Write-in candidate Thomas wins spot on Youngstown council

| Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 8:36 p.m.
Jim Thomas is poised to become the newest member of Youngstown borough council.

With just over two dozen write-in votes, Jim Thomas is poised to become the newest member of Youngstown Borough Council.

Three other candidates who were all incumbents retained their seats, while a fourth slot on the ballot was empty in the Nov. 5 general election. Thomas said he decided to run as a write-in candidate so he could help the community of about 300 residents.

“I knew the position was open,” he said, adding that he wanted to “try something new, something different. Help out with cause, whatever the cause may be.”

Thomas, 48, has worked for the Youngstown Municipal Authority for 27 years and grew up nearby in Unity.

He received 27 write-in votes, more than he was anticipating from a strictly word-of-mouth campaign.

Margaret Keim got 38 votes, Sharon S. Repko garnered 37, and George T. Hantz Jr. tallied 32 votes to retain their seats on council.

Youngstown Mayor James Yazvec ran unopposed, gaining 44 votes to get re-elected after more than 30 years in office.

The council seat became vacant when former President Bill Piper announced that after more than 20 years on council, he would retire when his term expires at the end of the year.

Piper, 77, said he wanted to spend more time with his 10-year-old great-granddaughter.

“I thought I had something to offer the community, and now I think it's time for a younger person to take over,” he said. “There's a lot of nice people on council. I enjoyed working with them.”

Piper stepped down and took the role as vice president this year, and Repko took over as president.

“We try and do our best for the community,” said Repko, who has served on council for about 10 years.

Piper said he's glad to see Thomas join council.

“I figured he would be a good guy. He was my choice,” the mayor said.

Repko agreed, saying she has known Thomas for years and believes he will work well with the other council members.

“I'm sure he'll do a fine job,” she said. “Youngstown's just a small community. Everyone knows everyone.”

Council meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the municipal building at 4351 Latrobe St., Route 982, in the borough.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or