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Five seek Elyria 4th Ward seat

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ELYRIA — Five residents are interested in the upcoming vacancy on Elyria City Council.

With Councilman Mark Craig days away from his last day as an elected council member for Ward 4, the field of people who would like to replace the independent includes two former mayoral candidates, a local businessman and two men with strong ties to city commissions. They are Kenny Oswald, Ray Noble, Chalene Mudd, Phil Tollett and Chad Schneider.

Each applied to Council this week, the first week applications were being accepted to replace Craig.

Craig is moving from Elyria to Vermilion by the end of the month. Applications are being accepted until 4 p.m. July 31.

The city’s charter spells out that if an independent leaves Council then the vacancy is filled by a majority vote of the remaining members. The seat has to be filled within 30 days from the time the vacancy occurs or the mayor appoints the replacement. The 30-day clock starts Aug. 1.

Kenny Oswald, 58, of Pepperdine Drive, is a Democrat who has lived in the ward for roughly 13 years and is the owner of Carpentry by Kenny Inc. Oswald is a local contractor who buys condemned homes and rehabilitates them.

“It was once said about me that I will rebuild Elyria one house at a time,” Oswald said. “I just think that the city needs to keep rebuilding rather than demolish our history.”

Oswald said he has been eyeing Craig’s seat and was patiently waiting for an opportunity to campaign.

“I have wanted to do this for a while, but I knew I would have to run up against (Mark) Craig, and I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “I thought he was doing a good job in the ward, so I waited.”

A familiar name that has been on an Elyria ballot more than once, Noble ran unsuccessfully against Craig last year. He also ran for mayor before, but as a Republican. His submission this time is as a Democrat.

When reached Friday, Noble, 80, of Naples Drive, said he wants the seat because the ward needs better representation, someone who listens to constituents with their concerns about roads, trash collection, water rates and issues in the community.

“I want to serve the people of the ward,” he said. “For me this is not about the party, what I have done for the party. It’s about what you do for constituents in the ward.”

Mudd, of Berkley Road, first threw her name into Elyria politics three years ago when she entered the mayor’s race as a write-in against Mayor Holly Brinda. She did not return a call Friday.

The one-time chairman of the city’s Civil Service Commission, Phil Tollett, 55, of Overbrook Road, said he is excited about the possibility of serving on Council. He said he put his name in consideration after neighbors and friends pushed him to do so. The father of two is the director of purchasing for Canteen Cuyahoga Group and considers himself to be an extremely conservative Democrat.

“Several people who live in my ward, the second the news came out, called me and said, ‘You should do this right now,’” he said. “I have thought about it for several years, but it was never the appropriate time.”

Tollett said he is good with people, good with details and thinks he can be an asset to the city.

Schneider, of Crestview Drive, is on the city’s Planning Commission, which is a volunteer appointment, and is a local real estate agent. He did not return a phone call for comment.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


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