STOW — One vacant position created a second vacancy on Stow City Council, but both were filled during a Friday night council meeting.
James Costello, the current Ward 2 representative, will switch to an at-large seat on Stow City Council, and Sindi Harrison was selected to fill the Ward 2 seat.
Council voted 3-2 to appoint Costello, effective at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, to fill the at-large seat vacated by John Pribonic, who was elected Stow mayor in November. Ward 3 representative Brian Lowdermilk and Ward 4 representative Bob Adaska both voted no.
"The at-large position to me comes down to experience," said at-large representative Mike Rasor, calling Costello "the most qualified person and the most experienced person."
Costello was the interim mayor before Pribonic was elected. He will finish out Pribonic's term, which expires Jan. 1, 2020.
The appointment of Costello to the at-large council position left the Ward 2 seat vacant.
Rasor proposed addressing the Ward 2 vacancy Friday night, as they already had applicants to be on council. He said he didn't want the process to drag out.
"I think that she would add a level of legal expertise to this field that we need now and will need next year when there will be no other lawyer on City Council to protect the interests of this body and also this city," Rasor said of Harrison.
Council voted 4-1 to appoint Harrison to that seat, with Adaska as the only no vote. He declined to comment on his vote for both positions.
Ward 2 covers the northeast corner of Stow.
Eighteen Stow residents submitted letters of interest and resumes to be considered for the vacant at-large seat, which represents all four Stow wards, the Stow Sentry reported. Five were selected for interviews, according to the Sentry.
Each council member, except for Costello, selected one name from the list to be interviewed for the seat. The interviews and candidate discussion took place during a three-hour executive session Friday evening.
Council President Matt Riehl said he wanted the process to be public, with a chance for residents to apply for the at-large position — something he said didn't always happen in past years.
Several council members emphasized how difficult the selection process was, both for interviews and for the seat. Riehl said it was a "strong field," and Rasor said the selection was a "vigorous discussion."
Before he became acting mayor, Costello represented Ward 2 for 15 years. Costello, 70, is a 40-year Stow resident who retired after 40 years in purchasing in the rubber and plastics industry and 30 years in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Costello was not present during Friday night's council meeting but has said in the past he plans to address the city's "outdated" payroll ordinance, which he said hasn't been updated since 2008.
Harrison, a seven-year Stow resident and Garrettsville native, is associate legal counsel for SD Myers in Tallmadge. She's been an attorney for 11 years and currently serves on the city's planning commission and parks board.
"I wanted to be able to do something with a little more involvement going forward, and most of City Council is term-limited next year, so I think they need to get some new voices involved," said Harrison, who said she's looking forward to learning more about city departments and how the city works.
Harrison mentioned the downtown concept as an idea she'd like to focus on when she takes her seat.
"I think it would be good to see that through and to see where that process is going to go," she said. "I think this is the time to do that. The economy's in a good place to look at things like that … It either happens or it doesn't."
She and her husband, Michael, have been married 15 years and have a 9-year-old daughter.
Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills can be reached at 330-996-3334, email@example.com and on Twitter at @EmilyMills818.