DiCostanzo likely to fill late Scott Clark’s seat on Niles City Council

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Although it is far from becoming official, it appears that John DiCostanzo will be appointed to fill the seat of the late Scott Clark on the Niles City Council.

Councilman Tim Skalla said at Monday’s regular council meeting that he would make a motion to appoint DiCostanzo to the vacant Fourth Ward seat at their next meeting Jan. 25.

If that happens, it would take a majority vote of the council for the appointment to take place.

DiCostanzo has served on the city’s planning commission and utilities board since 2012. Both are volunteer positions.

“I’ve chose to recommend someone who is involved without compensation,” Skalla said. “He brings a fresh insight to most any problem.”

Skalla said he decided to announce his decision in advance in order to give people the opportunity to approach him with any problems or concerns they might have with it between now and the next council meeting.

City Administrator Ric Huff said the city received 10 applications for the Fourth Ward seat, which became vacant when Clark passed away Nov. 27.

The applications, Huff said, were distributed to council members. No interviews were conducted.

As per tradition, Huff said the council member from the same ward as the vacancy — in this case Skalla — is given the opportunity to recommend one of the applicants and is afforded the opportunity to make a motion for the appointment.

“If there is opposition to the recommendation then it is up to the remaining council to either not second or vote down the recommendation,” Huff said. “Any council member can make a motion to appoint someone of their choosing.”

If a person is appointed, Huff said that person would be sworn in at the same meeting and take their seat on the council.

The person who is appointed will have to run for the seat in the August primary election. The four-year term for the position is due to expire in November.

Anyone wanting to challenge the position would need to run in the August primary in order to be on the November ballot.


Police to get new vehicle

Also Monday, the city council approved by a vote of 6 to 1 a request by the police department to acquire a wheeled armored personnel carrier vehicle from an agency of the United States Department of Defense.

Chief Jim Millin, of the Niles Police Department, said the vehicle would be used to replace a similar “tracked” vehicle that was recalled recently due to a 2015 executive order by President Barack Obama banning vehicles with tank-like tracks from being used by civilian law enforcement agencies.

Millin said the city would only pay for the cost to ship the vehicle — estimated at less than $1,500.

The only council member to oppose the request was Dan VandenHeede, who said he was concerned that such a vehicle might make the police department appear “militarized” and less approachable to citizens.

Millin said the vehicle would stay out of the public’s eye.

It could be used, he said, in a variety of situations, including evacuating citizens during active shooter situations, assisting first responders in areas where normal vehicles can’t access or in the execution of high-risk felony arrest warrants.

Although Millin said the department never had to use the other vehicle, which it had since 2002, he said it would be beneficial to have it in case of an emergency.

Millin said the department would use money from its drug forfeiture fund or maintenance fund to pay the cost of shipping.