ELYRIA — After 24 years in elected office, City Council President Mike Lotko said Thursday he’s ready to take on some different personal and professional opportunities.
The longtime Elyria councilman, who served during three mayoral administrations, did not file for re-election by Wednesday’s deadline for the May primary.
He said he feels like he’s leaving city government at a good time.
“It’s been a good run in elections, always was a top vote-getter,” Lotko said. “I’ve seen a lot, and the city has accomplished a lot. ... The city seems like we’re in good shape.”
The 55-year-old also is getting married this summer, and has some professional opportunities with his partnership in Parsons Insurance and managing 401(k) plans for local companies, he said.
Lotko expressed appreciation to the voters who elected him to 12 terms, but for now is leaving politics behind.
“I’m out of politics,” he said. “I’m not running for mayor, and I’m not running for county commissioner.”
Wednesday’s filings for Elyria City Council primary races contained other surprises. Fourth Ward Councilman Phil Tollett, appointed in August to fill an open seat, has decided to run for an at-large council seat.
One of five contenders for four open at-large seats, he said it’s civic pride and duty that drove his decision.
“I love what I’m doing, I absolutely love it, and I wanted to take more of a macro approach to the city,” Tollett said Thursday.
He said he made his decision after he met Kenny Oswald and Chad Schneider, both of whom have filed to run for the 4th Ward seat and both of whom Tollett defeated for the Council appointment last year. Tollett said he also spoke with his wife and others before making the decision, which was made easier when it became clear Lotko wasn’t running again.
“I want to play a bigger part, and I can do that in an at-large” seat, he said. “There’s really a great group downtown, and I’m proud to work with all of them.”
Tollett also said he is trying to play an active role in a “huge issue, a citywide issue” that will next come before City Council at a public hearing Monday: Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.
With the end of his tenure looming, Lotko said City Council is in good hands. He pointed specifically to the leadership of members like Tom Callahan, Donna Mitchell and Vic Stewart, all Democrats, but also said he tried to work in a bipartisan way with Republican Council members.
“I worked with everyone as far as being president” of Council, he said. I tried to bring everyone together. I’m confident they’ll take care of things.”
Also not filing to run to retain his seat is longtime 1st Ward Councilman Larry Tanner. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.