STOW — A longtime Stow City Councilman will become the interim mayor next month.
Council on Thursday night unanimously approved the appointment of Ward 2 Councilman Jim Costello to serve as the city’s interim leader starting at 12:01 a.m. May 14.
The vote was greeted with applause from the audience.
"I will do the best I can for the citizens of Stow," said Costello, who has served as a councilman for 15 years. "I would also like to thank the people that have contacted me. We all would love to do it ... Thankfully, I’m old and retired."
He noted he anticipated meeting with current Mayor Sara Kline on Friday to review city issues.
Kline, who was not at Thursday’s meeting, is resigning from her post effective May 13 and will then begin work as superintendent of the Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Department the next day.
Costello will serve in the role until sometime in November. There will be an election on Nov. 6 for the remaining one year on the mayor’s unexpired term. The winner will start as soon as the election results are certified. Costello added that he would not run for election to the post in November. After serving as interim mayor, Costello said he would return to his council seat and complete that term in office.
The city charter requires Council to select one of its members to serve in the interim post until the November election.
During the discussion, Council President Matt Riehl (Ward 1) noted the mayoral position is "a full-time job."
"The charter says that you have to devote full time and attention during working hours," said Riehl. "This narrows it down a lot because a lot of us are mid-career professionals who are at different stages of our careers."
Riehl said he would not be able take the interim position because it "wouldn’t be fair" to the citizens and noted, "once I resign from one job, I’d be looking for another one that would begin in December."
Costello told Council he is "retired retired" and noted he has "the time available."
He said if he were nominated and selected for the temporary job, "I would be more than honored to serve as the interim mayor."
Councilman Brian D’Antonio (At Large) nominated Costello for interim mayor, and the nomination was seconded by Councilman John Pribonic (At Large). There were no other nominees.
Councilman Mike Rasor (At Large) said he would not be able to accept an appointment to the interim mayor’s spot due to his work and family commitments, as well as his campaign for Ohio State House. He added he appreciated Costello offering to serve and also wanted to know who else was interested in the leadership post.
D’Antonio and Councilman Brian Lowdermilk (Ward 3) both said they would not seek the role primarily due to work commitments. Pribonic, who announced on Tuesday that he will run for mayor this fall, said that he did not want the interim role due to his work responsibilities as an executive for Acme.
Noting he has worked for 41 years for Acme, Pribonic said he "would not feel it’d be correct for me" to leave the company on short notice to serve as interim mayor starting in mid-May.
When asked by Riehl, Councilman Bob Adaska (Ward 4) declined to comment.
After a couple more minutes of discussion, Council voted unanimously to select Costello.
Following the meeting, Costello said he is the "least political political person," and is "the most logical person because I’m retired retired."
Costello noted that once Riehl said in the meeting he would not seek the post, he said he decided to offer to serve as interim mayor, but noted he "had no clue" that he would be nominated and approved that night.
Costello’s appointment to serve as interim mayor means Council will have to fill the Ward 2 position for an approximate six-month term. Riehl said anyone interested in serving as the Ward 2 City Council member should send a resume and statement of interest to City Council Clerk Bonnie Emahiser or to Riehl by 11:59 p.m. on May 9.
Riehl said Council will review the materials and schedule interviews. The person who is selected to serve as the Ward 2 Council member will only serve until a new mayor is elected in November, said Riehl. After that, Costello would return to his Ward 2 Council seat.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.