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Published: Wednesday, 11/9/2011

Cities set for change as 6 new mayors elected to office

Fremont, Fostoria residents unseat their longtime leaders

BY TONY COOK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Six new mayors will be taking office in cities across northwest Ohio after residents sent a clear signal during Tuesday's election that they wanted change.

Voters ousted incumbents in Fremont, Fostoria, and Port Clinton. They also elected new mayors in Findlay, Wauseon, and Tiffin.

In Fremont, attorney Jim Ellis, a political newcomer, defeated Mayor Terry Overmyer, who has held the office for 20 years.

Mr. Ellis, 55, a Democrat, is a Chicago native who moved to Fremont in 1998. During the campaign, Mr. Ellis frequently criticized the city's handling of several large infrastructure projects, including a $28 million reservoir that went more than $10 million over budget after karst bedrock that could drain the reservoir was discovered at the site.

Those kinds of problems can be avoided with smarter planning, he said Tuesday night. He also promised more community involvement in his administration.

"People want a change in the way the city approaches job creation and a change in the way the government operates," Mr. Ellis said. "We offered a different type of strategic planning process that is community-based."

He received 56.4 percent of the vote, compared to Mr. Overmyer's 43.6 percent, according to unofficial results from the Sandusky County Board of Elections.

"It's been a real privilege to be the longest-standing mayor of the city I grew up in," Mr. Overmyer, a Republican, said. "Life goes on. I wish Fremont well."

Fremont was just one of several cities where voters were attracted to messages of change.

In Port Clinton, Mayor Debbie Hymore-Tester lost to a member of Port Clinton City Council who has held his council seat for less than two years.

Ms. Hymore-Tester, a Republican seeking her second term, was defeated by first-term Ward 1 Councilman Vince Leone, a Democrat who came away with 53.76 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Ottawa County Board of Elections.

In Fostoria, longtime Mayor John Davoli was defeated by Eric Keckler, who had never run for office before.

Mr. Keckler, who worked for the city for more than 30 years and retired in 2008 as public works superintendent, received 59.4 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results in Wood, Hancock, and Seneca counties.

Mr. Keckler has said he plans 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."

In two other cities, incumbents were ousted during May primaries by challengers who went on to win the general election Tuesday.

In Findlay, Republican Lydia Mihalik, who defeated Mayor Pete Sehnert and two others in the GOP primary, won the general election with a definitive 73.3 percent of the vote. She bested independent Billy R. Nelson, Jr., who received 22 percent of the vote, and former Councilman Robert Kuhlman, who ran as a write-in candidate and received 4.7 percent of the vote, according to the Hancock County Board of Elections.

Ms. Mihalik, who is a grants administrator for the Hancock Regional Planning Commission, said streamlining city government will be among her first tasks when she takes office in January. She plans to combine the safety director and service director positions and to hire a human resources chief, she said.

In Tiffin, 2nd Ward City Councilman Aaron Montz defeated incumbent Mayor Jim Boroff in the GOP primary in May. Mr. Montz beat political newcomer Kenneth Gaietto, a Democrat, with 57.8 percent of the vote, according to the Seneca County Board of Elections.

In Wauseon. City Council President Doug Shaw carried 55 percent of the vote to replace Mayor Jerry Dehnbostel, who did not seek re-election.

Mr. Shaw beat fellow council member Kathy Huner, who received 45 percent of the vote, according to the Fulton County Board of Elections.

Contact Tony Cook at: acook@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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