ELYRIA — City Council will hold a special meeting later this month to appoint the next member of Council, the person who will assume the rest of Mark Craig’s unexpired term for the city’s 4th Ward.
A strong showing of 16 candidates want the Council seat that Craig, an independent, occupied for nearly 11 years. It became vacant when Craig resigned as of July 31 because he recently moved to Vermillion.
Law Director Scott Serazin said Council will discuss the methodology for narrowing the field and making the selection Monday. Council is expected to announce the date of the special meeting at that time.
Serazin said a public meeting will allow for each person to attend and address Council.
“I think Council is trying their best to make the process as clear as possible,” he said.
Craig’s role in the 4th Ward undoubtedly will be hard to fill.
Populationwise, the ward is a similar size as the city’s other wards, but it always has had some of the highest voter turnout numbers in the city.
In the last election for Council — November 2017 — turnout in the ward was about 30 percent, which is slightly higher than the overall county turnout of 27 percent. That was the year Craig went up against Ray Noble and easily won with 1,099 votes, or 71 percent of the total, to Noble’s 458 votes, or 29 percent.
“It’s tough ward because Mark is an active Council member,” Serazin said, adding that Council will be challenged to get the roster of
16 down to a manageable number so a majority vote is possible. “He is active, holds town hall meetings, keeps up a website and I know he has come to me on a number of occasions with questions.”
Craig said he was not surprised to see all who came out for his seat.
“This is an appointed position for which the people will not have to actively campaign and receive votes,” he said. “There may also be those who underestimate the challenges of the position.”
Before the July 31 deadline, applications were received from Kenny Oswald, Ray Noble, Chalene Mudd, Phil Tollett, Chad Schneider, Jeff Baxter, Chuck Messer, Stanley Wojdyla, Debra Bryan, Nicholas Piasecki, Catherine Smith, Norbert Dennerll Jr., Mary Bryan, Frank Whitfield, Michael Tomlin-Brenner and Bonnie Ivancic.
Many of the names have clear connections and past histories with Elyria.
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. Mudd first threw her name into Elyria politics three years ago when she entered the mayor’s race as a write-in against Brinda.
Tollett is the one-time chairman of the city’s Civil Service Commission and Schneider is on the city’s Planning Commission.
Wojdyla is a former city employee who ran the city’s Cemetery Department until his retirement after 30 years. He also was unsuccessful in winning the 4th Ward seat in the 2011 election.
Dennerll is a former three-term Cleveland city councilman who won a largely Republican 9th Ward seat in 1957 and has appeared on a number of Lorain County ballots over the decades.
Whitfield is the president and CEO of the Lorain County Urban League.
Craig first took his seat in November 2007 when he bested Ivancic, a then-councilwoman. It was a close race.
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