At a special meeting on Jan. 3, Austintown trustees Lisa Oles and Jim Davis officially announced the appointment of Pastor Rick Stauffer to fill the remaining term of David Ditzler, who is now serving as Mahoning County commissioner.
Davis said there was no big search for a person to fill the remaining year of Ditzler's term. He said several residents had sent in letters of interest, but he and Oles were looking for someone who would not be politically motivated.
Davis said when Ditzler decided to run for commissioner in March of 2012, both he and Oles began put feelers out in the community for the right person. At the annual Fourth of July Parade, the trustees took notice of Stauffer and the way he worked with people.
Austintown Township Trustee Rick Stauffer
Stauffer and his wife Daneen both grew up in the Pittsburgh area. Stauffer entered the ministry and 11 years ago accepted the position of pastor of Tabernacle Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Austintown.
Besides his role at the church, Stauffer began playing an important part in the community through several programs. He was involved with the Austintown Senior Center and served on a grassroots committee to get it established.
Stauffer also enjoys working with the schools. His church offers an after-school program for Frank Ohl students.
Although he is heavily involved in the community, he didn't jump right on the offer to fill out the remaining term of office.
"When I was asked about doing it, I first said no," Stauffer said. "Through prayer and the process, I decided to go ahead with it. If you had asked me 11 years ago if I would be sitting in the trustees chair, I would have said you are crazy."
Oles said the selection of Stauffer was made with certain criteria in mind. She said she and Davis were looking for someone of good moral character who was non-political and who was involved in the community.
"Rick Stauffer fit that bill," she said.
In taking on the role, Stauffer said he will approach it with honesty and fairness.
"I see things with my heart and will approach this task with honesty," he said. "I am not here to win people to Jesus, but wouldn't it be great if that happened."
He said he understands that it is just for one year and he did say he would not seek a full term afterwards. He said he is just filling in and serving his community.
Stauffer will be sworn in at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14 prior to the start of the first regular meeting of 2013.
Davis said he appreciated the letters of interest that were sent in by those wishing to fill the seat.
"This board has never requested letters of interest," he said. "But for those who did submit one, I say thanks for your interest. I feel the person we chose is the best person for the township at this time."