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4th Ward Elyria City Council candidate disqualified

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ELYRIA — An Elyria man who recently moved back to the city from Columbus cannot replace Councilman Mark Craig.

The vacancy on Elyria City Council comes with a residency requirement of one year in the city and ward. Chuck Messer, of Washington Avenue, wrote on his application that he has lived in the city and the ward for just seven months.

Clerk of Council Forrest Bullocks informed Messer in a letter dated Wednesday that he would be ineligible to serve.

A total of 16 people, including Messer, applied by Tuesday’s deadline to succeed Craig, who resigned, left Elyria and moved to Vermilion. Craig, an independent, served as the 4th Ward councilman for more than 10 years.

In his letter, Bullocks said the city’s charter has explicit language governing the appointment of a councilperson in cases of a vacancy and language that speaks to the qualification to be on Council.

“It is apparent that the charter intended to require any appointed member to meet the same criteria as an elected member of Council,” he wrote. “That is why the Ward 4 application for the vacant 4th Ward seat states that all applicants must be a resident of the 4th Ward for a minimum of one year. Per your application you have only been a resident of the 4th Ward for seven months. Therefore you appear not to be eligible to be considered for this vacant council seat at this time.”

Messer submitted an application, resume and cover letter July 23. He is a 1988 graduate of Elyria High School, attended Lorain County Community College and then The Ohio State University before starting a career in the Columbus area.

Now that he is back in Elyria, he added his name to the pool of interested residents in hopes of serving in the ward.

“We purchased our home on Washington Avenue, where when growing up on the other side of the tracks — the eastside — I dreamed I’d always end up living,” Messer wrote in his July application letter. “I’m back and I’m ready and willing to get involved and serve our great city and the hardworking people who care about it. I want to listen, I want to communicate and I want to help make a difference.”

Bullocks encouraged Messer to stay involved and attend future Council meetings.

“We welcome you back to the city of Elyria after your 25 years of living in Columbus,” he said. “It’s great when former residents return to their hometown.”

With Messer out, Council will now have to determine who should serve the rest of Craig’s unexpired term from a field that includes Kenny Oswald, Ray Noble, Chalene Mudd, Phil Tollett, Chad Schneider, Jeff Baxter, Stanley Wojdyla, Debra Bryan, Nicholas Piasecki, Catherine Smith, Norbert Dennerll Jr., Mary Bryan, Frank Whitfield, Michael Tomlin-Brenner and Bonnie Ivancic.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


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