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First Mayor of Niles, H.H. Mason.
By Gene Antonio, Niles Daily Times News
Staff, August 7, 1984
(Service dates and images of the mayors have been added).
Since a man named H.H.Mason was elected
the first mayor of Niles in 1866, 30 men have served in the city’s
highest office. When Niles was no more than a small village, mayors
were elected to one-year terms. Later, terms were increased to
two years and not long ago they were increased to the present
Each of these mayors made contributions of one
type or another to the city and aided in its growth. Some are
better known than others, but each has earned a place in the history
of the city.
Others serving in the office were W.F. Thomas
from 1904 to 1908; Edwin Hall from 1902 to 1904; E.
Boynton, from 1900 to 1902; Leonard Holloway from
1896 to 1900. Holloway’s terms were characterized as “strict,
precise and conscientious.”
Other early mayors were D.J. Woodford,
and William Davis. Davis was mayor when Niles was incorporated
as a city in 1884. He served for 18 years, longer than any other
The earliest mayors were J.B. Noble(1867),
John Ohl(1868), F. Casper(1869),
J.H. Fluhart(1870), M.D. Sanderson(1872), Ephriam Thomas(1874),
William Davis(1876-1894), D.J. Woodford(1894),
E. Boynton(1900), Edward Hall(1902), W.F.
Before 1916, F.E. Bryan(1914-1916) served
Prior to that, John Naylor(1908-1914)
known as “Honest John” served for six years. He increased
the size of the police force and instituted a motorcycle patrol
unit. He also adopted civil service hiring of city employees.
Naylor was killed in an industrial accident after
Charles Crow served as mayor from 1916
to 1924, the second longest amount of service. Crow was a minor
league baseball player and arrived in Niles on a freight train.
He owned the Niles Shoe Store for many years and during his years
in office saw the dedication of the McKinley Memorial and Library.
His service was characterized as being “like
a breath of fresh air” and he was re-elected with the largest
majority ever received as a candidate up to that time. Characterized
as “genial, impulsive, and big-hearted,” Crow fought
a war against organized crime which he said produced “a
new type of criminal.”
Although he himself fought corruption, Crow was
called before the state to answer corruption charges. He was vindicated
but the publicity cost him the election in 1924. He lost by 450
votes to Harvey Kistler, who had the political support
of the KKK.
Harvey C. Kistler. (1924-1928)
Kistler fought against vice*
in the city and was instrumental in obtaining the land where Meander
Reservoir is now located.
He also did work leading to Niles’ being
part of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District.
Kistler also laid the groundwork for construction
of the viaduct. The Viaduct was dedicated in 1933.
refers to bootleggers, numbers rackets, and gambling. Prohibition
was in effect during Kistler's tenure as Mayor.
In 1924 there were confrontations between the
Italian/Irish community and the KKK.
Harvey Kistler believed that the KKK had the
legal right to receive a permit to march in a Niles' parade. The
Irish-Italian community attacked the parade in May and June. A
truce was brokered with concessions from both sides, however this
truce was short-lived.
The 1924 Riot refers to the November 1, 1924
melee that took place throughout several key areas in Niles that
The largest confrontation occurred at the intersection
of North Main Street and West Federal Avenue when the Italian-Irish
group prevented the KKK from crossing the Erie Railroad tracks
and marching into downtown Niles.
A limited Civil Martial Law was put in place
when the Ohio National Guard arrived and dispersed both sides.
George O. Marshall served as mayor from
1928 to 1932.
From 1936 to 1938 Fred R. Williams served
Prior to that, E.C. Ferguson(1932-1935)
served two terms. During his tenure Niles celebrated its centennial
in 1934. Also during this period, the Niles Bank building was
constructed on South Main Street and West Park Avenue.
During the transitional period between the Depression
and the war, William P. Kearney(1938-1941) served two
terms as mayor. Under Kearney, electrical wires downtown were
installed underground. Niles was one of the few cities at that
time to make this improvement.
Also under Kearney, working through the WPA,
a major resurfacing project was carried out in the city. During
the Kearney administration, through Congressman Michael Kirwan,
Niles received as much assistance from the WPA per capita as any
city in the country.
Waddell Park and specifically the Niles Municipal
Pool greatly benefitted from the assistance of the WPA in its
construction and the employment of Niles unemployed workers.
The new Post Office on Park Avenue also was a
construction project funded through the WPA.
During World War II, mayors Elmer Fisher(1942-1947)
and Raymond Hubbard(1948-1950) maintained the city in
the face of a shortage of construction materials and a building
freeze. The two could do little except wait until the war and
Edward Lenney(1950-1959, 1962-1963),
served five two-year terms as mayor. He was named mayor in 1950
upon the death of mayor Raymond Hubbard. He was then elected in
1951 and served for 12 years. He ran two more times in later years,
but was defeated.
During his five terms, Lenney saw the size of
the city double through annexation. He worked to annex the North
Road area, Salt Springs and much of the Rt. 422 area. Prior to
annexation, most of North Road had been nothing but open fields.
Mayor Lenney came in during the second phase of the post-World
War II construction boom. This involved residential construction,
especially in the Vienna Avenue and North Road areas.
Another major accomplishment under Lenney was
the grade separation project in which railroad bridges across
Robbins Avenue and Main Street were built. This was considered
a “major feat” because it eliminated dangerous railroad
crossings near the heart of the city.
The greatest recent period of local construction
came during the terms of mayors Edward Lenney and Carmen DeChristofaro(1964-1971).
These two accomplished more in expansion of the city than any
chief executive in the modern period. DeChristofaro worked with
the greatest commercial development in city history. This included
annexation of the Eastwood Mall land. Much of the Rt. 422 construction
visible today occurred in his two terms as mayor.
Mayor Thomas Smith(1960-1961) preceded
Another one-term mayor, William Thorp(1972-1975),
his tenure saw an expansion of the Rt. 422 area with construction
and new businesses.
Arthur Doutt(1976-1979) served one four-year
term. The major accomplishment of his term was construction of
the multi-million dollar electric substation to supply Eastwood
Mall with electricity from the city.
Mayor Joseph Cicero(1980-1983), had as the important
feature of his tenure a period of fiscal accomplishments in which
the city was restored to economic solvency. Cicero inherited a
fiscal emergency when he took office. The city was deeply in debt,
with Niles the first city in the state to be declared in fiscal
emergency under a new law. As mayor, Cicero put the city back
in the black.
Mayor, John Shaffer(1984-1987) ran on
a platform of seeking industry and commercial businesses for the
city, as well as a beautification and litter control program.
Ralph A. Infante(1992-2015) The longest
serving Mayor, the Wellness Center was constructed in Waddell
Park during Infante's tenure.
Infante's final years as mayor were marked by corruption charges.
Barry Steffey, Jr.(2018, Interim)
Steven Mientkiewicz(2018-Present). Steve
ran on a platform focusing on:Fiscal Responsibility, removing
neighborhood blight, improving the infrastructure of water and
sewer lines, and community outreach through social media.
In March 2019, Niles was successfully removed
from Fiscal Emergency.
1914 Niles officials. On the front of the picture
they are identified from left to right:
1. Police Chief L. Round,
2. O. R. Farror
3. Bert Holloway, Supt. of Water & Light Dept. 4. Mayor
William Davis was mayor of Niles for 18 years, from
1876-1894. It was during his last term of office that the village
incorporated as a city of the second class.
Mayor E. C. Ferguson(1932-1935) PO1.71
Dedicated in 1933 during the
term of Mayor E.C. Ferguson