City council appoints Sprentz to fill vacancy

Warren City Council voted to fill an empty chair in their ranks at a special meeting Tuesday evening.

The new councilman is Joe Sprentz.

Following the resignation of Councilman Christopher Park late last month, council had only 30 days to make an appointment to fill the vacancy in compliance with the city’s home rule charter.

Park resigned following a relocation outside of the city, which made him ineligible to serve as a member of city council.

Failure to fill the spot would have resulted in the matter being turned over to the court of common pleas, which would have then made an appointment.

Prior to nominations and a vote, council laid out a procedure to follow.

Council would call for nominations chosen from amongst eligible candidates. Those nominated would then be options in a voice vote. Each of the six remaining members of council would then cast a vote for the nominee of their choice. The nominee who received the least votes would then be eliminated and another round of voting held. The process was continued until a clear majority consensus was reached.

All six remaining council members were in attendance; Sam Harvey, John Lewis, Maurice Cashman, Howard Ferguson and James Zavinski in person, and Mark Phillips by teleconference.

Seven total candidates had expressed interest prior to the city’s Feb. 15 deadline. Of those seven, six were eligible for nomination by a council member.

One additional candidate was ruled ineligible for providing only a letter of intent and not a resume. The city had requested both.

Cashman, serving as the ranking officer present in person, called for nominations from amongst the remaining eligible candidates. Richard Kolcharno was nominated by Lewis, Greg Fraser was nominated by Cashman, and Joe Sprentz was nominated by Zavinski.

The first round of voting resulted in one vote for Kolcharno, two for Fraser and three for Sprentz, eliminating Kolcharno.

Barring a tie, with only two candidates remaining, the second round of voting would decide the appointee.

Lewis, Harvey, Zavinski and Phillips voted for Sprentz, while Ferguson and Cashman voted for Fraser, giving Sprentz the appointment by a four to two margin.

“When I moved to Warren 28 years ago, for such a small town, there’s so much opportunity,” Sprentz said. “Even though things have changed in 28 years, that opportunity is still here… We have a strong economic base… We have a hometown newspaper, a community hospital… the Allegheny National Forest in our backyards and the Allegheny River and the Conewango in our, sort of, front yard… These things give us a lot of opportunity as a city… I’d just like to see that opportunity continue.”

Originally from the Pittsburgh area, Sprentz relocated here for work with United Refining Company.

He holds a B.S. in accounting from California University and an M.B.A. from Gannon University.

In his 28 years in Warren, he has served on the board of directors of the Warren County Jaycees, Music in the Park, the Warren Chamber of Commerce, Warren Baseball and Softball, the Warren Chapter American Red Cross and the child care board at Grace United Methodist Church. He recently accepted a position on the board of directors of Warren-Forest Higher Education. He has also been involved in baseball coaching through the YMCA and was an original member of the city’s blighted property committee.