July 26, 2014

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Mayor’s early departure throws wild card into GOP’s plans

LORAIN — Mayor Craig Foltin’s decision to leave office early appears to be setting up a struggle for the Republican nod to replace him.
The current Republican candidate running to replace Foltin, who did not seek re-election, would seem like a shoo-in for the job when the Republican Central Committee meets later this summer to decide who will serve out the remainder of Foltin’s term.
 But it’s not that cut and dry, according to David Arrendondo, chairman of the city’s Republican Party.
Just because former Sheffield Mayor John Romoser is the Republican running against Democratic Councilman Tony Krasienko doesn’t mean he’ll get the job, Arredondo said.
If another Republican would be named mayor, Romoser could step aside and allow Republicans to replace him on the November ballot with the new mayor, Arrendondo said.
But Romoser said Wednesday night that he has no intention of stepping aside — even if another candidate manages to win the right to finish Foltin’s term.
“I’m sure there are other people with ambitions for the job, but my question is, ‘where were they when it was time to file and run?’ ” he said.
Among those weighing a run for the city’s top office is Deputy Safety Service Director Joe Arendt.
“I would definitely be interested,” Arendt said Wednesday. “I would love to be mayor to serve out these last four months. I think I would do a great job.”
But Arendt’s candidacy might be complicated by allegations made recently that he sexually harassed a female city worker.
Romoser said he’s heard that Arredondo also might seek the nomination and, if he does, he likely will be Romoser’s main rival for votes from the Republican precinct committeemen.
Arredondo did not return a call seeking comment on whether he would seek the mayor’s job, but Romoser said it would be a mistake for him to do so.
“To me, that’s personal ambition getting in the way of what should be his main job — getting other Republicans elected,” he said.
County Republican Party Chairman Bob Rousseau said he’s not surprised other people want to be the Republican candidate.
“As long as people have egos, people will put their hat in the ring,” Rousseau said. “I’m sure there will be people coming at me who believe they should be mayor.”
If the person who replaces Foltin ends up being the Republican on the November ballot, that person would have the advantage of incumbency on their side, Rousseau said. But that only works in their favor if they don’t make mistakes during their time in office, he added.
 “It gives you the advantage of incumbency, provided you do something good,” he said.
 Krasienko said the short amount of time between when Foltin leaves office — Aug. 6 — and Election Day in November won’t give that much of an advantage to whoever takes over the job.
“He’s only got two months to do something earth-shattering,” Krasienko said.
It’s going to be a tough fight for a Republican — regardless of who is chosen — to hold onto the mayor’s post, Arrendondo said in an earlier interview.
“This is still a Democratic town, and it’s an uphill battle for whoever is running, whether it’s John Romoser or someone else,” Arrendondo said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.
Staff writer Adam Wright contributed to this story.