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Election 2017: Medina Township trustee outcome reflects fire dispute

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MEDINA TWP. — Township voters ousted an architect of the fire department dissolution and replaced him with longtime firefighters.

Michael Stopa and Mark Radice, two former township firefighters, were elected over incumbent Bill Ostmann, according to unofficial results from the Medina County Board of Elections. The election will be certified Nov. 28.

Stopa and Radice will join

Ken DeMichael after they are sworn in Jan. 1.

Stopa got the most votes with 1,459 (27.92 percent), Radice was runner-up with 1,432 votes (27.4 percent), candidate Jimmy Traynor was third with 1,233 votes (23.59 percent) and Ostmann came in last with 1,102 votes (21.09 percent).

“I think people were sick and tired of the same old, same old,” Radice said Wednesday. “They wanted a change.”

This won’t be the first time Stopa has been in office. He served as a trustee for four months in 2009 when he was appointed to fill out the term of Rita Holt, who had died. He lost the 2009 election to keep the seat to Sally Gardner.

“That got me into politics and made me realize I wanted to do something for the township,” Stopa said.

He said he’s lived in the township for 13 years and served on the township’s fire department during that time.

Radice, a longtime AT&T employee, said he thought about running for a trustee spot a short time before the controversy started with the Medina Township Fire Department.

Ostmann and Trustee Ray Jarrett, who chose not to run for re-election, orchestrated the change to dissolve the township department and have the city of Medina to take over fire operations. Ostmann said the move saved the township thousands of dollars a year. The township signed a three-year contract worth $230,000 a year with the Medina Fire Department to handle fire operations.

Many of the firefighters, including Radice and Stopa, said they didn’t like how the deal went down. They said they wanted the township’s voters to have a say in the matter. Instead, they accused Ostmann and Jarrett of doing the deal behind closed doors, something the trustees have denied.

Radice said “trust and transparency” were the two biggest issues in the campaign.

Some of the trustee meetings became contentious when former firefighters challenged trustees on the matter.

“I was disappointed with the way it was done,” Stopa said.

Radice said: “There was a conflicting climate. There wasn’t open communication.”

Neither Radice nor Stopa has applied for a position with the Medina Fire Department.

Radice is a member of the four-person fire committee that will be responsible for forming a fire district with Medina city, Montville Township and Medina Township.

Radice, who was a township firefighter for about 15 years, said he wasn’t sure Wednesday whether he’d be allowed to be a firefighter and be a member of the fire committee.

Stopa said he’s in favor of a fire district.

“(A fire district) is a good thing for the area, as long as it makes sense for Medina Township,” he said. “It has to benefit the township.”

Radice, 55, and Stopa, 46, were backed by the political action committee, Medina Township Citizens for Change, and got out and talked to the voters.

Stopa, who works for a private industrial supply company in Aurora, said he and Radice were “open and honest with the residents.

“I’m looking forward to working with Mark and Ken.”

Ostmann, 61, and Traynor, 62, were not available for comment.

Ostmann, superintendent of Pleasant Valley Golf Course, has been a township trustee for 15 years.

Traynor was a retired police officer in Cleveland and owner of the West Side Market in Cleveland. He is a member of the township’s zoning board.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.

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