BY MELANIE YOUNG
Trenton residents voted for a change on Nov. 7 and elected a new face to represent them on the City Council, as retired Trenton firefighter Richard Benedetti won one of three City Council seats up for election with 1,748 votes.
He had the second highest number of votes behind incumbent Steven Rzeppa, who had 2,118. Councilperson Timber Baun-Crooks was re-elected with 1,672 votes. Newcomer Emily Hornbeck received 1,466 votes and incumbent W. Dan Gillespie received 1458 votes.
Hornbeck and Gillespie received the least number of votes in the five-person field and did not win seats. Rzeppa, Benedetti and Baun-Crooks will join members William LeFevre, Robert Howey and Nelson Perugi on the six person board.
Benedetti is looking forward to serving the city and is happy to have the second highest vote total.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to follow through on things I talked about when I was running,” Benedetti said.
Rzeppa, who was the youngest person ever elected to a council seat in the city of Trenton, will also hold the title of Mayor Pro-Tem for the final two years of his four-year term. Traditionally, those who have the highest total of votes in an election become Mayor Pro-Tem.
In Trenton, it’s a little different, according to Rzeppa. The role of the Mayor Pro-Tem is to fill in for the mayor when they are not available and to oversee the budget process and meetings that go along with it. In Trenton, the person serves in that role in the latter half of their term, so they are familiar with the budget process. Councilman Bill Lefevre received the most votes in the 2015 election and will serve as Mayor Pro-Tem for the next two years.
Rzeppa is looking forward to working with Benedetti on the council.
“I’ve known Rick since before I started my time on the council from being active with the fire department and in the community. I’m really looking forward to serving with him and think he’s going to bring a lot of passion and good ideas to the table with us,” said Rzeppa, who is also sad to see Gillespie go. “He cared deeply about the community and always put a lot of effort and behind the scenes work in. I wish him all the best in the future.”
While newcomer Emily Hornbeck did not win a seat, she is pleased with the number of votes she received.
“I think residents showed that they are looking for change and progress in Trenton. I was really encouraged by how many votes I received since I am fairly new to Trenton and this is the first time I’ve ever run for any office.” Hornbeck said.
Losing the election to City Council won’t stop her from working with the city. She plans to stay active working on the recycling committee that she founded and continuing to fight to bring curbside recycling to Trenton. She would also like to work on other city commissions.
According to Rzeppa, the biggest projects for the council in the coming year will be continuing issues that need final resolution.
“Over the next year, I think the biggest projects we are going to be working with are insuring the deal with Crown Enterprises (for the McLouth Steel property) is completed to the highest standards Trenton residents deserve in a timely, environmentally safe and economically viable manner, along with finally getting the Riverside Hospital project completed with real deadlines that must be followed. That coupled with finding a solution to bringing recycling to all Trenton residents will be at the forefront of all of our minds.”
Benedetti is also interested in looking at the issue of recycling.
“Recycling is a big issue in Trenton. People want it.”
The newly elected council members were given the oath of office just prior to the Nov. 20 Trenton City Council meeting.