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Published: Sunday, 11/6/2011

Fremont, Fostoria among area cities to vote for mayor

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

For 20 years, Terry Overmyer has been mayor of Fremont. A local attorney thinks it’s time for a change.

Jim Ellis, a Chicago native who moved to Fremont in 1998, said he has never run for public office but decided to pursue the mayor’s job after becoming frustrated by his inability to get information from city officials, particularly as it related to the $28 million reservoir expected to be filled with water later this fall. The reservoir went more than $10 million over budget after karst bedrock that could drain the reservoir was discovered at the site.

“Rather than providing me the information in response to questions, they basically attacked my credibility, told people I was lying about what I was saying, that I was doing it for political purposes, and trying to embarrass people by asking questions,” Mr. Ellis, 55, said.

An advocate for a more transparent and public-friendly city government, Mr. Ellis said he wants to revitalize the community beginning with the development of a strategic plan. A Democrat, he defeated 1st Ward Councilman Don Nalley, Jr., in the May primary.

Mr. Overmyer, 55, contends he’s “done a lot of good things for this community over the years,” but after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency ordered the city to find a long-term solution to the problem of high nitrate levels in water from the Sandusky River, he became the target of some voters. Despite the problems that arose with the reservoir project, the GOP mayor said more projects are left to tackle, including the removal of the Ballville Dam and a sanitary and storm-sewer separation ordered by the EPA.

“We’ve been struggling to get this thing down to where my community can afford it,” he said, explaining that he would like to see the city build a new sewage treatment plant to replace its 47-year-old plant before it begins doing the sewer separations — something that could reduce the overall cost to the city.

“I could have walked out on a high note and just walked away and it would have been the easiest route to take because the next four years will be the most challenging for Fremont,” he said. “It’s going to be extremely tough as a mayor to get it accomplished. I chose to try to make a difference in the next four years and get this thing going.”

A number of incumbent mayors will be defending their jobs on Tuesday as voters across the region cast ballots for mayors and city council members, and township trustees.

n Fostoria, longtime Mayor John Davoli is running for a fourth term against Eric Keckler. While Mr. Keck­ler has not run for public office before, he worked for the city for more than 30 years, retiring in 2008 as public works superintendent.

Mr. Keckler said that if elected he wants to tap into the knowledge local business leaders have “to sell the town as a good place to have a business and a good place to live.”

Mr. Davoli said the city has received close to $50 million in state and federal grants during his tenure, and he wants to keep that momentum going. His years in the mayor’s office have enabled him to build relationships with agencies such as the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Development, he said, relationships that will help him keep the focus on job creation and downtown development.

In Port Clinton, first-term Mayor Debra Hymore-Tester, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Vince Leone, a local contractor and 1st Ward councilman. Five candidates — Debra Benko, Cole Hatfield, Karen O’Keeffe, all Democrats, along with Monica Blatt and Michael Snider, Republicans — are vying for three seats as council members at large.

In Findlay, Republican Lydia Mihalik defeated Mayor Pete Sehnert and two others in the May primary. Ms. Mihalik, grants administrator for the Hancock Regional Planning Commission, is being challenged by independent Billy R. Nelson, Jr., and former Councilman Robert Kuhlman, who is running as a write-in candidate for mayor.

Residents will decide a 2nd Ward race in Findlay between Jeff Detmer, a Democrat, and J. Randal Van Dyne, a Republican. Five candidates — John Kostyo, Jerry Murray, James Routson, Anne Spence, and Randy Ward — are on the ballot for one of three council at-large seats.

Tiffin 2nd Ward City Councilman Aaron Montz defeated incumbent Mayor Jim Boroff in the GOP primary, landing him in a contest for mayor with political newcomer Kenneth Gaietto, a Democrat.

Two members of Wauseon City Council — council President Doug Shaw and Kathy Huner — are on the ballot to replace Mayor Jerry Dehnbostel, who did not seek re-election. Also, Shane Chamberlin, Don Matthews, Fred Allen, Dale Morgan, and Deryle Stiriz II are seeking three council seats.

In Bowling Green, there are several contested council races including William Herald and Bruce Jeffers for council at large; Daniel Gordon and Mark Hollenbaugh for 1st Ward; Michael Aspacher, Nathan Eberly, and Crystal Thompson for 3rd Ward, and Gregory Robinette and Sandy Rowland for 4th Ward.

In other races:

● Grand Rapids voters will decide between Judy Keifer and Marjory Obermyer for mayor and will elect two people from among Janet Borough, William Hutchison, Andrew Schuman, and Jeremy Treen for council.

● In Pemberville, write-in candidate Eric Campbell is running against Gordon Bowman for mayor. Christian King, Randy Rothenbuhler, Eileen Schuerman, and Robert Vespi are vying for two seats on council.

● Delta residents will decide on three council seats between Richard Maurer, Joshua Harpring, Marcy LeFevre, and Lynn Frank.

● In Fremont, voters will choose between Robert Hart and David Dorobek to replace Fremont Municipal Judge Michael Burkett, who is retiring after 21 years on the bench. Mr. Hart is a longtime law director in Fremont, while Mr. Dorobek is a magistrate in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court. Voters also will decide on three council at-large seats among candidates Thomas Knisley, Dallas Leake, Mark Boukissen, Michael Koebel, and Julie Kreilick.

●  Fostoria will choose a Municipal judge to replace longtime Judge John Hadacek, who is retiring. Vying for the judgeship are Barbara Dibble, an assistant city prosecutor for the last 15 years; Barbara Marley, an attorney who is also a former mayor and longtime City Council member, and Carol Reffner, an assistant city prosecutor for nearly 20 years. In addition, they will decide on a city auditor race between Gregory Flores and Steven Garner. David Bettenhausen, Don Myers, Jerry Nelson, and Georgianna Widmer on trying for one of three seats as council at large.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.


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