Youngstown – ‘We the 800 – or why I run
By Stephen R. Zastrow, Attorney at Law
I used to think there would be more people like me.
I just saw a YouTube tribute to Lew-Port’s 1970 undefeated football team. It showcases then-and-now pictures of players, coaches and managers and I thought as I watched the young high-schoolers followed by gray-haired seniors that we had the same fate – we graduated from Lew-Port then fanned out across the country, in most cases only returning to visit parents and family left behind. I’d wager if you polled those team members, many ended up living a long way from here.
Happily, after 30 years I was able to come back to Youngstown for good. Many – most, maybe – would like to be like me, to be able to move back home. But they won’t. Their lives and children and grandchildren grew roots in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Charlotte, Columbus, Houston and Phoenix.
I was born and raised in Youngstown, grew up on William Street. I graduated from Lew-Port and like legions of friends and classmates left for college and never returned. Few jobs meant no going home and most jobs were elsewhere. So we found work, grew families, built careers and lives in Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, Arizona, California even New Jersey and Ohio and Pennsylvania. I went from college and city editor of a daily newspaper in Ohio, to Texas, then law school and a law practice in Florida. I moved back to Texas and served for as an assistant city attorney, chief prosecutor and police department legal advisor. Then I was able to return home to Youngstown and open my own law office. It is amazingly rewarding and I am here to stay.
I had been home for about 10 years when someone first asked me to run for the Village Board. I gave it little thought. Another person asked and again I said no. Then it dawned on me. I reported on many boards in my career as a journalist, and offered counsel and legal advice to other governing boards as an assistant city attorney. I could help, I figured. The third time they asked, I agreed and was fortunate enough to win a seat on the Youngstown Village Board of Trustees four years ago. This job is not over. I am running again and I would deeply appreciate your vote.
In addition to serving on the board, I am a firefighter and EMT for the Youngstown Fire Company. I serve as treasurer of the Youngstown Business and Professional Association, a member of the Youngstown Lions Club, and trustee of St. John Lutheran Church.
Roughly 800 families live in Youngstown. When I think of the village, I think “We the 800” – because we are in this together. My goal is to represent every resident as best I can to foster a healthy, prosperous community with services that matter. Residents in the Town of Porter outside village limits are our friends, neighbors and relatives. Working together best prepares us for the future. And we have much work to do.
In 1970, the year of Lew-Port’s undefeated football team, about 800 families called Youngstown home. Fifty years later we still have 800 families. We haven’t grown in 50 years, but unlike other places in Western New York, we haven’t declined either. We can make a brighter future for the Youngstown community – We the 800.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, some realized you don’t have to live where you work and remote working flourishes. Some of those who graduated and left for jobs elsewhere returned home. Because when you can work anywhere, you can live where you want. Now that it is possible, more may do the same.
Then there will be more like me. And maybe Lew-Port’s next undefeated football team won’t have to look elsewhere to live.
You have a choice. Other people are running for the Village Board and I am sure they would make good trustees. Given my education and experience, and involvement in the community and my time on the board learning how to best impact the Village – We the 800 – believe I am the wiser choice. And I would be most thankful for your vote.