If Ernie Staten gets his way, city residents won’t even notice that the Fairlawn Service Department’s leadership has changed for the first time in a decade.
Staten, an 18-year city employee, has been named deputy service director, taking the departmental reins from his now-retired mentor, John Sellars.
Mayor William Roth, whose appointment of Staten was made official by City Council on Nov. 7, has nothing but praise for both men.
“John Sellars was a 36-year employee who worked his way up through ranks,” Roth said. “He always put the interests of the city first and was a pleasure to work with. He was definitely an asset to the city and he will be missed.”
Similarly, Staten has worked his way up through the ranks. The Copley native started working for the service department as a custodian/laborer when he was 23. That was 18 years ago.
“Ernie is very competent and will do a great job for the city,” Roth said.
While Sellars had the title of service director when he retired on Nov. 1, Staten was named deputy director of public service. Roth said the title allows Staten to retain his status as a civil service employee while managing day-to-day operations in the department.
Roth, the city’s 16-year mayor, has added the title of service director to his other non-compensated title of safety director.
“When I started as mayor, one of my many hats was service director,” Roth reflected. “And when John first started he was deputy service director, then service director for 10 years.”
Staten is being paid an annual salary of $84,555 to manage the department, which includes 11 full-time laborers, an administrative secretary and three part-time workers at the Andrew E. Sombati Compactor and Recycling Facility.
The department’s major responsibilities include all facets of maintaining approximately 100-lane-miles of streets and right of ways, maintaining 95 acres of city owned parcels and the buildings located on them, as well as vehicle maintenance
Staten, whose most recent job title was street maintenance supervisor, spent his entire career in Fairlawn working with Sellars.
“He was my mentor and, for the last three to four years, we really became close and he helped me along in every facet of the job,” Staten said. “I think he felt comfortable enough to retire and allow the service department to continue its functions with me as the leader.”
Staten thought Sellars did a great job running the department, so he doesn’t foresee any major policy shifts in the near future.
“I think, in the end, I don’t want the residents to see any major changes,” Staten said. “I have some personnel changes I’d like to make in the department. Some people have retired and there are some open positions I hope to fill with the best-qualified people. But, as for basic functions, I’d like to see things remain the same.”
Staten and his wife of 20 years, Christine, live in Sharon Township with their two children, Morgan, 15, and Scott, 14.
Sellars could not be reached for comment.