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St. Clairsville Seeks To Fill Council Seat After Resignation of Mark Thomas

photo by: Carri Graham

The seat of former Councilman Mark Thomas remained empty during the Aug. 15 St. Clairsville City Council meeting. Thomas submitted his letter of resignation prior to the meeting after he pleaded guilty to mail fraud.

St. Clairsville City Council is down one member after Mark Thomas resigned from his position as 3rd Ward councilman Monday, leaving city leaders to appoint someone to complete Thomas’ four-year term.

Letters of interest are due Aug. 26 at the city building, 100 N. Market St., St. Clairsville, OH 43950.

According to city bylaws, the vacant seat must be filled within 30 days.

Thomas was elected in November. He ran unopposed despite being under indictment for federal mail fraud related to his former law practice. He also previously served as a Belmont County commissioner. Monday afternoon, he appeared in federal court to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud. The charge was not related to his elected offices.

The council seat is open to any resident of the 3rd Ward, which is situated in the southwest section of the city.

The city is tackling significant problems as well as evaluating opportunities. St. Clairsville is preparing to switch over to purchasing water from Belmont County rather than producing and treating water from its reservoirs at the antiquated treatment plant. This also means an extensive water distribution system upgrade, but while the city has received a $5 million grant through the Ohio Builds program, this has also thrown a wrench in street paving plans, since the paving would have to be immediately torn up for waterline replacement.

The city is also anticipating running a new permanent main waterline under Interstate 70. Since August 2021, the city has utilized a temporary waterline that crosses I-70 via the Reservoir Road overpass after it was discovered that the existing main line was leaking. This work, too, has run into delays, since the Ohio Department of Transportation prioritized a paving project and pushed the waterline project to October.

Council is also considering potential projects to make use of its share of an additional $500 million in funding available statewide for community-generated and directed improvements through Ohio Builds.

Meanwhile, inflation and supply chain issues have delayed many projects and made them more costly.

Prior to Thomas stepping down, the last person to vacate a council seat was 1st Ward councilman Perry Basile, who had moved out of the ward and was ineligible to run for reelection. Don Vincenzo was elected and sworn in early to fill the few remaining days of the old term and to start a new one.

In his letter of resignation, Thomas said he was honored to have served alongside dedicated council members who had the city’s welfare at heart. He voiced the desire that lines of communication should be kept open, and in prior meetings he indicated his expertise was available for the benefit of the city.

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