Thursday, May 23, 2019 Elyria 66°


Three council races decided in North Ridgeville


NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Voters decided three City Council ward primary races in the run-up to the November election.

1st Ward

Republican Holly Swenk defeated James Maleski by 309 votes to 231 votes, or roughly 57 to 43 percent, unofficially. She has no Democratic opponent in November.

Incumbent Councilman Gregg Westover chose not to seek re-election.

Swenk, 40, a mortgage loan processor, is a North Ridgeville High School graduate.

She is a lifelong resident of the city who has worked for both the federal and county governments. In a candidate profile, she told The Chronicle the biggest issue facing North Ridgeville is attracting new businesses and modernizing infrastructure while keeping the appeal of local traditions and green space.

3rd Ward

Incumbent Republican Bruce Abens defeated his challenger, Michael Babet, 590 votes to 396, or roughly 60 percent to 40 percent.

Abens, 67, will face Democrat Bob Jaeckin in November.

Abens has served for four years on City Council and is the president pro-tem. He also has been a Planning Commission member, chairman of the Building and Lands Committee and member of the Finance Committee.

“I’m very happy and I thank all my supporters,” Abens said after his win. “And I appreciate the people who helped me and I appreciate my opponent. … I’ve got a big smile on my face.”

He said Babet had called and given his concession. Abens said he felt confident throughout the day due to the feedback he was hearing outside of the polls from voters.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the Council president and improving the services for our community and keeping taxes as low as we can,” Abens said.

Abens ran the race on his experience as a Councilman and that he takes the time to respond to his constituents’ phone calls and emails. He is now retired from the modular construction industry.

Babet, 53, is the owner of Forever Green Lawn Care Inc. He could not be reached for comment.

4th Ward

Republican Clifford Winkel will face Democratic incumbent Bob Chapek in November.

Winkel edged James Cleveland in Tuesday’s primary 213 votes to 203, or 51 percent to 49 percent, unofficially. Winkel, 44, has owned and operated Wink Electric since 2000. He’s lived in North Ridgeville for 18 years.

“We were watching it all night long,” Winkel said. I’m feeling excited humble and happy. I did think it would be close. My opponent worked hard and I respect that.”

Winkel said he had an election night cookout with his friends and family, which helped to keep his mind occupied throughout the day. He said that although he expected it would be close, he didn’t expect to win by only 10.

“I did the work today. I just did the work day,” he said. “Tonight we’re going to breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the moment and tomorrow we’re back to work. We’re going to create a plan and get to that goal of getting a Council seat.”

Winkel said that if he wins the Council seat in November against Chapek, he wants to assist the city with its ongoing work, as his background is construction.

“I will not let anybody down, I’ll work hard,” he said.

Cleveland is a data analyst at AmTrust Financial Insurance. He was not immediately available for comment.

Contact Laina Yost at (440)-329-7121 or

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