Business and public safety at forefront of re-election effort for St. Clair trustee
East Liverpool–For the sixth time, a St. Clair Township man will be seeking to keep his township trustee seat.
Bob Swickard currently occupies two of three township trustee seats that are up for grabs in the November general election. Doug Blaner is hoping to defeat one of the two incumbents, who are Swickard and his colleague, James Sabatini II.
Initially appointed to the seat in July 2000 when Bob Wines retired, Swickard had owned Sam’s Subs and More for 19 years and was heavily involved with economic development in the Calcutta area.
“Economic development was my forte,” he explained, as he recounted how as director of St. Clair Township’s Blue Ribbon Committee that he was involved with the state Route 170 expansion and the creation of McGuffey Drive as well as some other projects to improve the traffic flow within Calcutta.
“Community service was very important to my and my wife Diana’s lives,” Swickard explained. Not only is the couple among the original members of the township’s Travel and Tourism Board, he also was heavily involved with the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, before it merged with East Liverpool’s to become the Southern Columbiana County Regional Chamber of Commerce,
Swickard also is co-founder of the Beaver Local High School Alumni Association, serving as a past president and currently as treasurer, and was a member of the Calcutta Rotary Club for 25 years. “Giving back to the community is important, and I started that even before I became a trustee,” Swickard added.
Although he has held the office for a long time, he acknowledges that he still has a lot he wants to accomplish on behalf of his constituents.
Currently St. Clair is the only township in Columbiana County without a road levy, and it is becoming a nearly impossible job to do without the increased revenue. “We take care of 70 miles of roadway in 2021 and it is hard and harder as costs increase,” he explained. A person’s home is their single personal investment, and it is important to be able to properly care for the roads for everyone to assist with the township’s curb appeal for development.
The township will be approaching voters in November for that road levy, and he would like to see it passed.
Swickard also wants to see Columbia Drive, which is crucial to “spiderweb” the traffic flow off state Route 170, completed. “The funding is the most difficult part,” he said, adding that trustees need around $2.4 million to finish it off to McGuffey Drive.
St. Clair was one of the first townships to create its Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, which were created to pay for those public improvement.
According to the township’s website, “The construction of (McGuffey and Columbia) will allow for … access approximately 170 acres of (economic) development,” connecting two of the most highly traveled roads in Columbiana County – state Route 170 and St. Clair Avenue.
The project is much needed.
Swickard explained the township owns the property all the way over from Columbia Drive, and state Route 170 traffic counts are about 27,000 cars a day despite St. Clair Township only having a population of around 8,000 people.
A Beaver Local High School graduate in 1982, Swickard currently works as a director of ground operations for Healthnet Paramedical Services out of West Virginia. He believes that his experience managing nine bases with 180 employees has proved invaluable in his role overseeing the St. Clair Township Police Department.
He also has been called upon twice to be involved in state legislation: first to testify in the early 2000s about House Bill 323, which balanced the Local Government Funding and again, using his public safety experience, when he helped to pen House Bill 187 in 2015, which allows first responders to treat injured dogs or cats at the scene of emergencies before transferring them to the care of a veterinarian.
State Rep. Tim Ginter introduced the legislation, after learning that if a Columbiana County police canine was exposed to a drug like fentanyl that the dog could be lost due to emergency personnel not having the authority to save the dog’s life.
The bill grants immunities to professionals, providing animal care in good faith and not in willful misconduct, according to the Ohio House of Representatives website.
Swickard said, “Being a trustee is a commitment. You don’t punch a time clock,” he said. “You basically are on-call 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” touting that his ability to listen and then solve any problems has assisted him in his elected position.
He speaks highly of the St. Clair Township team: “We have good group of like-minded elected officials working to the same purpose.”
Swickard and Wife Diana have two adult children.